Sheds Light on the Most Blatant Violations Committed against Yemeni Children for Years SAM
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In Conjunction with the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
Sheds Light on the Most Blatant Violations Committed against Yemeni Children for Years


Geneva- SAM fror Rights and Liberties said that children in Yemen have been suffering from the effects of the ongoing conflict in the country for years whose effects have spilled over into all the aspects of life, indicating that the violations perpetrated by the parties to the conflict-particularly the Houthi group- had the greatest impact on threatening the rights of Yemeni civilians, especially the children, without a real international move to provide full protection to these special groups under international laws and conventions.

The organization has mentioned in its legal paper issued to coincide with the “International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression”, corresponding with June 4, that the multiple violations against children which it has monitored amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly deliberate murder, child soldier recruitment and forcing children to participate in the conflict as well as depriving children of their right to education, and denial of access to adequate medical care which resulted in the deaths of thousands of children.

SAM agrees with many observers that children in Yemen suffer from numerous crises including malnutrition, problems related to education, health, right to life, and right to human security and stability compared with their peers around the world in addition to the lack of international and UN humanitarian access to many areas as a result of corruption and the operational and administrative expenses of the organizations which run these projects. Not to forget the obstacles created by the parties to the conflict, especially the Houthi group which exacerbates the crisis and threatens to make the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world.

SAM seeks through its current legal paper on children to shed light on some of the violations children are being subjected to by the warring parties which have significantly exacerbated the humanitarian and right situation particularly with the limited follow-up by the international organizations. Some of the practices that have dramatic and deep effect on children’s lives can be listed as follows:

 Recruitment of Children

The phenomenon of child soldier recruitment is one of the grave violations which children are the victims of in the wars and armed conflicts that Yemen has been witnessing for several years. We can say that this phenomenon has emerged clearly since the regime of the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, when the Defence Ministry used to accept to enroll and associate children under the age of 15 with armed forces and these children were normally loyal to tribal sheiks who aimed at making sure to get the monthly remunerations paid by the government by recruiting children. However, after putting pressure on Saleh’s regime in addition to ratifying international conventions on children rights, this phenomenon has declined dramatically.

On the other hand, the armed groups in Yemen, especially the Houthi group, sought to support their combat capabilities through the recruitment of children. The group has begun to exploit the recruitment of children since the war it had waged against the tribes of Hajour al-Sham in Hajjah governorate in early 2012, and then its war on Dammaj area in Saada governorate in 2013. After that, it increased at a greater pace in 2014, specifically after the Houthi group seized power in Yemen and the area of ​​direct battles expanded to twelve governorates.  The Houthi group used complex patterns in order to forcibly recruit these children and use them in hostilities to compensate for the human losses among its members who are killed during the confrontations with the Yemeni government forces, and later against the Arab Coalition forces led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"SAM" indicated that it had launched - earlier this year - a joint report with the "Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor", which was called "The Militarized Childhood". As the report dealt with the phenomenon of child recruitment in Yemen by the parties to the conflict. The number of children recruited by the warring sides in Yemen varies, as a 2017 United Nations report estimated the number of children recruited by the Houthi group at about 1,500 children, while a report issued by the Associated Press revealed the Houthi group recruited about 18 thousand children by the end of 2018. The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights published estimates which indicate that the Houthi group has recruited about 30,000 children since 2014.

It should be noted here that the recruitment of children in Yemen is not limited to the Houthi group, as several local and international reports pointed out the involvement of the Yemeni government and Arab Coalition forces in the recruitment of children, taking advantage of their families' urgent need for money.


Food crises in Yemen and the deteriorating economic conditions have led four UN organizations to issue warning in February of this year that malnutrition threatens half of children under the age of five in Yemen during the year 2021. This came in a joint report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation "FAO", the United Nations Children's Fund "UNICEF", the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

The report warned that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen, "half of children of this age", are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021. It is also expected, according to the report that 400,000 children of them will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, with the possibility of their death if they do not receive urgent treatment.

The report expected a rise in acute and severe acute malnutrition rates by 16% and 22%, respectively, among children under the age of five this year. The report quoted UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore as she said, "The increasing number of children suffering from hunger in Yemen must spur all of us to act."

"More children will die with each passing day without doing the necessary work... Humanitarian organizations need urgent resources," she added. For his part, the Executive Director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, said: “These numbers represent yet another distress from Yemen for help, as every child suffering from malnutrition also means a family struggling to survive.

The Deteriorating Health Conditions

The ongoing conflicts in Yemen have led to the deterioration of the health situation in general. As Yemeni children in the north and south are still suffering from outbreaks of diseases and epidemics such as cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and others, due to the “Houthi militias” obstruction of access to health services as a result of the continuation of the unjust war on Al-Dhale and other Southern provinces under the authority of legitimacy, which also caused the country's epidemics and health disasters.

The areas of Aden, Al-Dhale and other governorates are still suffering from the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and the spread of epidemics and diseases, including the current outbreak of the Corona pandemic, which has spread in the southern governorates in a very worrying manner. This thing prompted the Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Antonio Guterres to declare that Yemen is “the most vulnerable country in the world in terms of Confronting the Corona virus,” Guterres said, “The death rate of the total number of people infected with Corona in Yemen reaches more than 17 %, and this is the largest death rate in the entire world.” There is also a spread of Hemorrhagic dengue in several governorates, the most severe of which are Aden, Lahj and Al-Dhale.

100 Thousand Children Die Annually

"SAM" indicated that according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health in the southern regions, more than 100,000 children die every year as a result of some fatal diseases, especially malnutrition and diarrhea, in addition to fevers. The United Nations Children's Fund "UNICEF" confirmed that Yemen is still among the worst countries for children in the world, and that the persistence of the bloody conflict and its consequential economic crises have put basic social services systems across the country on the verge of collapse, and this will result in far-reaching consequences for children. Where the international organization expressed its concern over medical reports that showed hundreds of children infected with dengue fever and other febrile illnesses in Yemen, which is witnessing a devastating war and an outbreak of the Covid 19- pandemic.

The Houthi Summer Centres

The Houthi group has a policy of attracting children through the so-called "summer centres," through which they mobilize children intellectually and ideologically with racist ideas and practices based on murder, exclusion and the use of force.

In addition to training these children in the use of weapons to send them to the battlefields, these centres have become camps of approximately half a million school students who owe allegiance to the Houthi. SAM pointed out that the silence about singling out the Iranian-backed Houthi group by setting up hundreds of camps in the hijacked capital of Sana'a and other areas under its control, under the cover of "summer centres," by indoctrinating students with doctrinal thought, which detracts from others' beliefs, is a future disaster, and causes Yemen's future to be blighted by sectarian mines that collide with the values of coexistence, democracy, human rights and the civil state.

SAM called for the need to neutralize children, students from the conflict, respect school curricula and the message of education in bringing a generation armed with the values of coexistence and respect for the other, away from the sectarian ideas imported from Iran, or to recruit and engage them on various fronts of combat. SAM stressed that many of the testimonies that has received confirm that we are facing a dangerous brainwashing of the minds of hundreds of thousands of children, the creation of a generation of people packed with hostile and sectarian slogans, a culture of death and hatred for others, and their transformation into instruments for killing and spreading violence, chaos and terrorism in Yemen, the region and the world.

Upsurge in Hate Speech

SAM has also monitored the upsurge in hate speech used by the Houthi over the past years through its religious discourse, through which it promotes the practices of killing and assault in its operations and military attack on many civilian neighbourhoods. SAM pointed out that the group spread such dangerous meanings through its religious classes in mosques under its control or through its summer centres, which attract thousands of children every year. Religious school classes based on extremist members of the group had even been established in schools in order to spread the spirit of hatred and conflict in Yemeni society.

The organization documented an escalation of threats and promises to kill reflecting the criminal mentality of that group through the use of excessive force and unjustified violence towards civilians in its military operations, exploiting religious rhetoric and inciting on civilians.

Disturbing Numbers

SAM's figures and confidence from 2014 until the end of 2020 showed that the ongoing conflict in Yemen had resulted in more than 30,000 violations against children, spread to 70% of the Houthi militia, 15% of the Arab coalition, 5% of the legitimate government and 10% of other parties. SAM continued that more than 5700 children were killed during this period, the largest number of whom fell to 1000 in Taiz, followed by Amran (404), Hajjah (368), Saada (262) and Sana'a (260).

SAM explained in its statistic that 1300 children were killed as a result of fatal shrapnel by Houthi militia, 190 others as a result of direct gunshot wounds, 175 children killed by direct sniping, 250 children killed by mine shrapnel, 3000 children killed on the front of the fighting, 800 children killed by Saudi and UAE aircraft, 21 children killed by American drones, and 41were killed by extremist groups.

There were also 8170 infected children, the largest proportion of whom were in the city of “Taiz," up to 4000 injured, was the largest victim of indiscriminate bombing among children, with 2500 children and 690 other children shot, 280 children shot by Houthi snipers, 140 children wounded by Government forces, 520 children injured by Arab Coalition Airstrikes and 40 children injured by extremist groups. There is no accurate information on the number of injured recruited children who fight on the front line.

The Yemeni Ministry of Health also recorded 34,520 cases of measles (273 of these people died, 65% of whom were children), and 4500 cases of diphtheria where 253 were died, 16% of whom were children under the age of five. The number of congenital births and deaths has also doubled in recent years, including in some areas where the Coalition has bombed the following cities:

Sana'a, Saada, Hodeida, Amran, Hajjah, and Taiz, also, live birth defects have risen by 59%, and 42,000 patients have died as a result of the siege, 30% of whom are children. In addition, there are more than 500,000 children below the death line as a result of severe malnutrition.

SAM highlights that the situation of Yemeni children compared to their peers in the world reflects the real threat to these children, stressing that Yemeni children have been violated in a number of ways in terms of safety and the occasional violation of life, as well as their right to live in their families. Many Yemeni children survived the bombing and became without a father, mother, and sibling family after being killed by planes in a moment. In addition to violations of children's rights in terms of nutrition, education and treatment, as well as their need for psychological support as a result of the horrific sounds and incessant flight bombing that never stop.

The Human Rights Organization stated that the most serious existing threats were a clear and explicit violation of international legal norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Geneva Conventions, in particular the Fourth Hague Rules Governing Armed Conflict and the Rome Charter, which constituted the International Criminal Court .SAM has proved beyond any doubt that the parties to the conflict have violated all previous agreements, which constitutes a threat to international peace and security entrusted with its maintenance by the Security Council, which has not taken any effective and operational steps until this moment.

At the end of its paper, SAM stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to respect the legal norms that have guaranteed children special and full protection against threats, killings and forced participation in armed conflict. She called on the international community and all States of the European Union to exercise their moral and legal role, to spare children the effects of the conflict that has been going on in Yemen for years, and to initiate effective and serious steps to stop the fighting in the country and to implement a comprehensive rescue plan to guarantee the rights of Yemenis enshrined in international instruments.

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