Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that Yemeni children are still suffering from the effects of the conflict that has been going on in the country for years, and whose effects have extended to all aspects of life. The organization pointed out that the violations of the parties to the conflict - especially the Houthi group - had the greatest impact on threatening the rights of Yemeni civilians, especially children, without any real international action to provide these special groups with the full protection required by international laws and charters.
The organization stated in a statement issued today, Sunday, on the occasion of "Children's Day", which falls on November 20 of each year, that what it monitors of multiple violations against children amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially the deliberate killing practices, children recruitment, forcing them to participate in the conflict and depriving children from going to school and receiving adequate medical services, which led to the death of thousands of children.
“SAM” indicated that through the information and testimonies it collects on an ongoing basis, it has become clear that the children of Yemen still suffer from many crises. These include malnutrition, education, health, the right to life and to live in safety and stability compared to the children of the world, in addition to the lack of UN and international aid as a result of corruption or the operational and administrative expenses of the organizations that are based on these projects and the obstacles set by the parties to the conflict, in particular the Houthi group, which has exacerbated the crises and threatens the largest humanitarian disaster in the modern era.
The organization also highlighted that children in Yemen suffer from several repeated and serious violations, most notably their recruitment by armed parties, especially the Houthi group, as the United Nations report in 2017 estimated the number of children recruited by the Houthi group at about 1,500 children. On the other hand, SAM and the Euro-Mediterranean Organization in a joint report entitled “Militarized Childhood” counted the recruitment of about 30,000 children by the Houthi group. An Associated Press report revealed that the Houthi group had recruited about 18,000 children by the end of 2018. The Yemeni government's Ministry of Human Rights published estimates indicating the recruitment of 30 Houthi groups in 2014.
The second threat facing Yemeni children is malnutrition, as nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five suffered from acute malnutrition in 2021, while the United Nations report for the year 2021 indicated that it was expected that more than 400,000 children would suffer from acute malnutrition with the possibility of death if they did 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, "The increasing number of children suffering from hunger in Yemen must spur all of us to act."
The third threat facing the protection of children in Yemen is the deteriorating health conditions as the ongoing battles in Yemen have led to the deterioration of the health situation in general in Yemen. “SAM” indicated that, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health, more than 100,000 children die annually as a result of some deadly diseases, especially malnutrition and chronic gastroenteritis, in addition to fevers. Yemeni children in the north and south are still suffering from outbreaks of diseases and epidemics, such as the "epidemic of cholera, malaria, dengue fever and others", due to the "Houthi militias" obstructing access to health services as a result of the continuation of the war on the southern governorates that are under the authority of legitimacy, which also caused the country's epidemics and health disasters.
"SAM" stresses that the situation in which Yemeni children live compared to their peers in other countries of the world reflects the magnitude of the real threat to these children. It also emphasized that Yemeni childhood has been violated from several aspects in terms of safety and a violation of life from one moment to another, in addition to violating their right to live among their families. Many Yemeni children survived the bombings and therefore were left without a family "father, mother, siblings" after the aircrafts had killed them in moments.
The fourth threat is the spread of hate speech, sectarian feeding in schools, summer camps, and the media and social media, and its systematic incitement, raising the culture of death, and endearing children to fight, which threatens horrific violations among children and even at the family level.
The fifth threat is the spread of psychological trauma among children due to indiscriminate attacks, airstrikes, storming of homes by the forces of the conflicting parties, antipersonnel mines, and domestic violence caused by the deteriorating economic situation. According to a study issued by the Arabia Felix Center for Studies most children in Yemen, aged 10-19 (teenage years) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the impact of the war and the accompanying violence in reality and through the media. The study, entitled “Post-war stress disorders among young children in Yemen,” concluded that the economic collapse accompanying the war, the rise in food prices, and the resulting violence and family disintegration caused more psychological trauma among young children.
The sixth threat is instability and displacement
More than a million children have been forced to leave their homes with their families due to the war and live in camps that lack the most basic of humanitarian necessities. Moreover, thousands of them had to leave school and join the labour market in order to work in occupations that are not commensurate with their physical structure with high risks or beggary. The absence of effective mechanisms to protect children has contributed to the exacerbation of the problem as the International Labour Organization indicates that 1.4 million children working in Yemen are deprived of their most basic rights and that about 34.3% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 work in Yemen with the phenomenon expanding during the war at rates that may exceed four times what it was before the war. “SAM” human rights organization stated that the most serious existing threats are the clear and explicit violation of international legal rules, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in addition to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Geneva Conventions, especially the fourth of them, the Hague Rules regulating armed conflicts, and the Rome Statute forming the International Criminal Court. As it was proven to "SAM" beyond any doubt that the parties to the conflict have violated all previous covenants. This thing constitutes a threat to international peace and security entrusted with its preservation by the Security Council, which has not taken any effective and executive steps until this moment.
At the end of her statement, "SAM" stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to respect the legal rules that ensured the child special and complete protection from threats, killings and forced participation in armed conflict. It also on the international community and all European Union countries to exercise their moral and legal role and work to spare children the effects of the conflict that has been going on in Yemen for years, and to start effective and serious steps to stop the fighting in the country and implement a comprehensive rescue plan that guarantees Yemenis their rights stipulated in international covenants.