Yemen’s Houthis Agree To Cease Child Soldiers Recruitment

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi group on Tuesday pledged to stop recruitment of child soldiers and also cease attacking schools and hospitals.

Human Rights Watch said that Houthis have signed an action plan with the United Nations, pledging to end recruitment and use of children as soldiers, and killing and maiming of them (children).

The development came as warring parties agreed for a two-month UN-brokered ceasefire that many hope will lead to more formal peace talks.  

During the war, the Houthis have committed massive violations against children, the watchdog said in a statement, adding that Houthi rockets, indiscriminate artillery attacks, and use of landmines have caused thousands of child casualties.

“The Houthis have attacked scores of schools and hospitals, used schools for military purposes, and blocked humanitarian assistance,” the statement added.

One boy, whose name was not revealed, told Human Rights Watch that he was recruited at age 13 and shot in the chest while fighting the Yemeni army. “Witnesses have reported seeing armed children as young as seven at checkpoints,” the statement added.

According to the UN report, between January 2020 and May 2021, nearly 2,000 children recruited by the Houthis died in battle.  

However, the Houthis were not the only perpetrators of violations against Yemeni children.

The Saudi and UAE-led coalition has carried out more than 25,000 airstrikes in Yemen, destroying schools and hospitals and killing or injuring thousands of children.

Yemeni pro-government forces also carried out indiscriminate missile strikes, deployed children into combat, and attacked schools and hospitals, the Human Rights Watch added.  

The statement said that UN action plans have been a powerful tool to prompt warring parties to end violations against children.

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