JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday called for a global initiative to combat the recruitment of child soldiers.
Ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen to support the internationally recognised government, regularly encountered children who had been recruited by the Houthi militia.
In a series of heartfelt tweets, Prince Khalid said the international community and media had ignored the Houthis’ daily violation of children’s rights.
The recruitment of children by the Iran backed Houthis is a heinous crime that we can no longer tolerate.
Houthis force recruitment from schools & playgrounds, threaten/terrorize families who refuse, and proceed to use them as cannon fodder. pic.twitter.com/KWUZKiYgXB
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) January 3, 2019
“The recruitment of children by the Iran backed Houthis is a heinous crime that we can no longer tolerate,” he said.
“Houthis force recruitment from schools and playgrounds, threaten/terrorize families who refuse, and proceed to use them as cannon fodder.”
“KSA calls for a serious sustained global initiative to combat the recruitment of children in battles; especially in Yemen. It must end once and for all.”
The Iran backed Houthis, who sparked the Yemen conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, have routinely used child soldiers during the war.
The militia have inducted 18,000 children into their ranks since the conflict began, a senior Al Houthi military official told AP recently.
The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre has run a series of initiatives to help rehabilitate the children and return them to school.
“Kids often come in shocked by the horrors of war, where they find themselves between death, gunfire, and bodily remains,” Prince Khalid said.
He added that Saudi Arabia had helped treat hundreds of young Yemenis.