Local News

UN Criticizes Houthi Recruitment of Children Soldiers

National Yemen

Children Not Soldiers campaign

By NY Staff

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has issued a statement on the first anniversary of establishing the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, which was launched jointly with UNICEF exactly a year ago aimed at ending children soldiers recruitment.

In its report, Zerrougui accused Houthi militants known as Ansarullah of recruiting child fighters.

“In Yemen, months of work leading to the signature of an Action Plan in May 2014 have been derailed by the current political situation,” said Zerrougui. Instead of the anticipated progress, data gathered by the UN indicates a spike in the recruitment of child soldiers by all parties to the conflict. Even the armed group Al-Houthi AnsarAllah, whose leaders were actively engaged in dialogue with the UN, have reneged on their commitment to protect children.”

“We cannot afford to watch silently while children once again pay the price for political instability in their countries.”

“We keep reminding parties to the conflict that they cannot recruit or use children, that it is a war crime,” said Zerrougui. “We ask all those involved in peace talks to make sure that releasing children is a priority.”

“The big lesson of this campaign’s first year is that the road to child-free government armies is promising, but also full of obstacles. The setbacks of 2014 show that even if measures to protect children are put in place, gains can be reversed under the pressure of conflict.”

Zerrougui continued to say, “the campaign builds on the growing international consensus that children do not belong in security forces and seeks to galvanize support to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by national security forces in conflict by the end of 2016.”

One year ago, representatives of the last eight governments of the world named by the UN Secretary-General for the recruitment and use of children in their security forces gathered at the United Nations in New York to declare they were ready to take the steps necessary to make their security forces child-free.

The gathering in itself was historic. And so is the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, launched jointly with UNICEF exactly a year ago. The campaign builds on the growing international consensus that children do not belong in security forces and seeks to galvanize support to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by national security forces in conflict by the end of 2016.

The countries concerned by the campaign are Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

Child soldiers used by the Houthis are victims of wars and they have been pushed to the battleground since 2004 civil war in Sa’adah. After the Houthi coup, a good number of child soldiers can be seen at Houthi security check points dressed as military personnel and sometimes in militant uniforms.