By: Asma Al-Mohattwari
During a mission to Sana’a, Leila Zerrougui, United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, secured commitments from the National Unity Government to end the recruitment and use of children by Yemen’s armed forces.
During her visit, Zerrougui met with President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister Mohammed Basindowa, members of the Military Affairs Committee for Security and Stability (established as part of the GCC initiative), First Armored Division Commander Ali Mohsen, children and youths, Children’s Parliament members, and civil society figures.
Zerrougui also traveled to Sa’ada governorate, where she met with the leader of the Houthi armed group, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi.
She said she was heartened by pledges from Hadi and other government figures to end the recruitment and use of children by government forces. “The restructuring of the security forces envisioned during the transitional period offers a unique opportunity to end grave violations against children and to professionalize the security forces,” said Zerrougui.
Among those in the UN Secretary General’s ‘list to shame’ for recruitment and use of children in Yemen’s armed forces are Mohsen, government-affiliated tribal militias and the Houthis.
For his part, UN Resident Coordinator Ismael Ouldcheikhahmed stated that the UN was ready to work closely with the government and other partners to implement commitments. “
An important component will be the reintegration of children and the facilitation of access to education and livelihood support,” said Ouldcheikhahmed.
Zerrougui also met with children who had been maimed by mines.
“I am horrified by the widespread use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Yemen, which has increased dramatically this year, with a disproportionate impact on children,” she said.