Houthi rebels recruit fighters as young as 15: Amnesty
Feb.28, Sanaa: Amnesty International has said Yemen's Houthi rebels are recruiting fighters as young as 15, including by using religious schools to lure teenagers into their ranks without their parents' knowledge.
The rights group Amnesty International described the "appalling" practices in a report released on Tuesday, citing family members of four boys - aged 15 and 17 - who were recruited by the rebels.
"It is appalling that Houthi forces are taking children away from their parents and their homes, stripping them of their childhood to put them in the line of fire where they could die," said Samah Hadid, deputy director at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office.
"This is a shameful and outrageous violation of international law," Hadid said, calling on the rebels to halt such recruitment and release the child soldiers.
One family member whose 16-year-old brother was taken told Amnesty that the young soldiers were "just excited to shoot Kalashnikovs and guns and wear military uniforms.
"They [the Houthis] have been saying that there are so few fighters [at the front line], they are going around taking one [recruit] from each family," said the anonymous interviewee.
"If the son dies at the front line, a monthly salary and a gun are given to the father to keep them quiet."
The report by the UK-based group also said that many families feared reprisals against their children who had been taken by the Houthis, or against other children or family members if they dared speak out about their recruitment.
"Many children [are recruited] but people don't dare talk or follow up," said one father, according to the report.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Ravina Shamdasani, a UN spokeswoman, said that about 1,500 boys were verified as child soldiers in Yemen, but the actual number of children who have been drawn into the war was probably far higher.
The Oslo Times International News Network