Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen

Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen
A Yemeni boy poses with a Kalashnikov assault rifle during a gathering of newly-recruited Houthi fighters in the capital Sanaa, to mobilize more fighters to battlefronts in the war against pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 23 June 2018

Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen

Ex-child soldier presents damning testimony of Houthi recruitment in Yemen
  • Children who try to flee are recaptured and forced to continue fighting
  • The study shows 80 percent of child soldiers in Yemen begin fighting to earn much-needed money

JEDDAH: Children recruited as fighters by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen are beaten into submission and face psychological abuse, as well as the risk of death, injury and disability, a former child soldier said on Friday.
Those who try to flee are recaptured and forced to continue fighting, he told the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV).
The child’s testimony is part of a documentary about the recruitment of children in Yemen, which was broadcast during the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Legal expert Lisa Al-Badawi highlighted efforts to rehabilitate former child soldiers and children affected by the war in Yemen.
She said children make up a third of fighters in the Houthi militias, according to a field study by the Wethaq Foundation for Civil Orientation.
The study showed that 80 percent of child soldiers in Yemen begin fighting to earn much-needed money amid deteriorating economic conditions, while just 10 percent join Houthi ranks for “ideological reasons.”
Al-Badawi revealed numerous human rights violations faced by the recruits, including the risk of death and injury, deprivation of education, and exposure to sexual and psychological abuse.
She also discussed the methods used to treat and rehabilitate these children, emphasizing the importance of promoting awareness among parents.
She presented statistics on the areas covered by the rehabilitation process, which is carried out with support from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said he is not surprised by the Houthis’ large-scale recruitment of children.
“By devious design, they push children onto the frontlines so that when the children become victims, the Houthis can cry foul and blame the legitimate Yemeni government for killing children,” he told Arab News.
“These are terrorist militias, and like all terrorists, they have no qualms about playing with the lives of children.”
It is easy for the militias to brainwash children, Al-Shehri said. “Grown people are difficult to convince, but children become easy prey,” he added.
“In most cases, the Houthis don’t even tell children that they’re going to the frontlines. They lure them by saying they’ll be helping their men.”
Now that the Houthis have been cornered in Hodeidah, they will use children and the civilian population as human shields, Al-Shehri said, asking: “What can we expect from such terrorists?”
Meanwhile, the Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the UN, according to sources quoted by Reuters. The port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen.
This week, UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to try to negotiate a solution.
The source, quoted by Reuters, said the Houthis indicated that they would accept overall UN management and inspections of the port.
A Western diplomat said the UN would oversee income from the port and make sure it gets to Yemen’s central bank. The understanding is that Yemeni state employees will work alongside the UN.
Griffiths on Thursday said he was “encouraged by the constructive engagement” of the Houthis, and will be holding meetings with Yemen’s internationally backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Speaking earlier at the UN, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi reiterated the Saudi-led coalition’s demand that the Houthis quit the city of Hodeidah entirely.
“What we are offering is for the Houthis to hand over their weapons to the government of Yemen and to leave, to leave peacefully, and to provide information about the locations of mines and improvised explosive devices,” he said.


Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccines as students start to return

Jordan’s king, crown prince, and many well-known medical and media celebrities were filmed receiving the vaccination in an effort to convince skeptics of its safety. (RHCJO)
Jordan’s king, crown prince, and many well-known medical and media celebrities were filmed receiving the vaccination in an effort to convince skeptics of its safety. (RHCJO)
Updated 1 min 17 sec ago

Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccines as students start to return

Jordan’s king, crown prince, and many well-known medical and media celebrities were filmed receiving the vaccination in an effort to convince skeptics of its safety. (RHCJO)
  • Hillaleh Oweis, 92, was the first to take the vaccine in the city of Jarash
  • King Abdullah II and the crown prince have also received their vaccinations

AMMAN: Jordan has started inoculating its citizens against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and became the first country to start vaccinating refugees on its soil. 

Jordan’s king, crown prince, and many well-known medical and media celebrities were filmed receiving the vaccination in an effort to convince skeptics of its safety.

 

 

Hillaleh Oweis, 92, was the first to take the vaccine in the city of Jarash. Her daughter Eman told Arab News that her mother was initially skeptical of the vaccine but was eventually convinced of its safety and has shown no side effects.

Ziad Al-Kabashi, an Iraqi refugee in Irbid, was among the first refugees in the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He was prioritized for the vaccine because he suffers from chronic diseases and is considered part of the high-risk category.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Ali Al Ayed announced the lifting of the Friday curfew but said that the daily midnight-to-sunrise curfew will remain.

Minister of Education Tayseer Nueimi said that as of Feb. 7, students from kindergarten, the third grade and the 12th grade will gradually return to classes, while other grades will continue with remote learning, with a review every two weeks.

Nadine Nimri, head of a popular campaign for the return to schools, told Arab News that an online poll of 25,000 Jordanians by the pressure group showed that the knowledge gap had widened considerably during the past 11 months of online teaching.

Nimri said: “81 percent of the families said that their children’s education has been badly affected, with many unable to connect to the government-sponsored online teaching program.”

She added: “The system is a one-way process and does not engage with students.” 

Nimri welcomed the decision to return some grades to school. “Even though it was late, the decision is a good one. Now schools need to make up for all the lost teaching days. They need to put a reasonable plan to make up what was lost before moving ahead.”

Thoqan Obeidat, a veteran educator, told Arab News that decisions to restart the second semester should be based on science, not politics or peer pressure. “We are all for the opening of schools, but this should be done only if the health situation allows.”

He added: “In the meantime, we should continue to improve online teaching until we are able to guarantee safe face-to-face education.”

Obeidat criticized the decision to rotate students from the early grades as families will have some children going back to school and others stuck at home.