There is growing evidence garnered by Unicef, the United Nations agency that is charged with looking after the welfare and education of children, that Al Houthi rebels in Yemen have consistently continued to recruit children as fighters to their illegal cause.
Unicef has reported that in 2017, more than 2,100 children were taken from their families, schools and villages, were indoctrinated into Al Houthi political and sectarian philosophy, in addition to being given the most rudimentary of military basic training, and being handed Kalashnikovs to instantly become ‘freedom’ fighters. How ironic is it that Unicef is reporting this grossest of violations of the rules of warfare by a rebel body that itself is acting against resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
What is clear in nearly three years since Al Houthis overthrew the legitimate and internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi is that the tribal militia will stop at nothing in its efforts to bring chaos, suffering and violence across Yemen. It has turned to taking weapons, training and logistical support from Iran to pit Yemeni against Yemeni, fire missiles at humanitarian aid ships, mine international maritime waters, target Saudi cities with ballistic weapons, and continue to recruit the young and vulnerable as cannon fodder.
There are long-standing protocols that prohibit the use of minors to fill out the ranks of soldiers. These are protocols that Al Houthis deliberately choose to ignore, putting small hands on triggers and placing them in danger. This deliberate policy meets the moral preponderance of evidence as a war crime. Al Houthi’s leadership will be held to account.