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The New Arab

Yemen rebels 'recruiting child soldiers', says Amnesty

Rights groups have accused both sides of the Yemen conflict of using child soldiers [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 February, 2017

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A human rights group has accused Yemen's Houthi rebels of recruiting children as young as 15 to fight in their ranks, without the knowledge of their parents.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have recruited fighters as young as 15, and used religious schools to lure teenagers into their ranks without their parents' knowledge, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The human rights group described the "appalling" practices in a report citing family members of four boys, aged 15 to 17, who were recruited by the rebels.

Samah Hadid, deputy director at Amnesty International's Beirut office, called on the Houthis to halt such recruitment and release the child soldiers, saying "this is a shameful and outrageous violation of international law".

"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 Hadid.

"The Houthis must immediately end all forms of recruitment of children under-18 and release all children within their ranks. The international community should support the rehabilitation and reintegration of demobilised children into the community," he added.

Last June, Saudi Arabia transferred 54 child prisoners captured during clashes with Houthi rebels to the Yemeni government.

Human Rights Watch has accused both sides of the Yemen conflict of using child soldiers.

The war in Yemen pits the rebels - who control the capital and much of the country's north - against a Saudi-led coalition fighting to restore the internationally recognised government.

Peaceful demonstrations calling for the downfall of the Saleh regime in 2011 were met with violent and often brutal responses.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was given immunity and removed from power and was replaced with Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In September 2014, the Houthi rebels, a group which Saleh had previously fought when in power, aligned with the ousted leader to bring down the new transitional leader.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign to help the internationally-recognised government regain control of territory lost to the Houthi rebels.

Figures suggest more than 10,000 people - half of which civilians - have died since this intervention, while 3 million more were forced into displacement.​

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