NEWS RELEASES- On the 19th June 2017, the CIPADH took the opportunity to attend one of the many side events of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council offered by the civil society, permanent missions, the OHCHR and other international intergovernmental organizations. This informal meeting was prepared by a NGO, Africa Culture International, working on development and ending poverty. These side events was related to the situation of Children in Yemen.
The Chair person, Ms. R. Umutetsi, described this side event as a debate of panelists covering the topic of the children facing war in Yemen. She first gave the floor to Mr. F. Fula, Secretary General of the Barhein Human Rights Society. This speaker choose to first talk about the issue of child soldiers in Yemen. He explained that the UN and the armed forces in Yemen signed in 2014 a charter regarding the withdrawal of children from these armed groups. Unfortunately, the UN has continued to monitor the situationand found out some worrying facts. Children were still part of the armed conflict in 2015 and the number of child soldiers in the Houthis militias had increased 30%. Child soldiers seem to be in majority used by Houthis militias. These children are between 8 and 18 years old and are recruited because they are easy targets for the Houthis militias as they live in a great poverty. Houthis militias are luring these children with the hope of a salary. While monitoring the child soldiers in Yemen it was point out that a large number of children are dropping out schools to fight in the militias. Furthermore, these children are being recruited without the agreement of their families. The Houthis militias are trying to justify the presence of the children explaining they are taking them with us for safety reasons and only military training.
Most of the children are recruited without their families being informed. The families are against these practices but they keep quite. These children are often being recruited by gang trafficking Child soldiers around the City of Sana. After entering the fight these children’s life are destroyed: they are often facing depression, anxiety and try to run from the war. The number of Child Soldiers in Yemen is evaluated around more than a thousand.
L. Dianko then took the floor to assess the health status of the Children. Children are facing harsh health problem often caused by antipersonnel mines. And by the scourge of the war. The war added with the weather conditions created a serious hunger in Yemen. In 2016, the UNICEF estimated that around 2.2 million children were mal nourished and need urgent medical care. Yemen is a poor country and the war aggravated the situation. There is a lack of food and water but also a ravaged health care system. Some facilities of Doctors Without Borders have been targeted as well as other hospitals. Children are suffering from these lack of health care and their families are left with no resources. The outbreak of Cholera in the region is concerning. And is the consequences of hunger and a destroyed health care system. Cholera and intense diarrhea have yet affected around 22.500 thousand people. Furthermore children can’t have a proper education anymore has school have been destroyed and it is endangering their future possibilities. Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the international coalition it leads have intervened, violence and conflicts have escalated. Mr. L. Dianko commented the subject already exposed by Mr. F. Fula. Child are the weakest and the first affected by this war: they are always fighting in the front lines which important violations of International Law. The speaker, Mr. L. Dianko, evaluated the number of child soldiers since the start of the conflict to around 1 500. The speaker insisted that there were a risk of the country to collapse. Moreover children are the victims of landmines and there seems to have been more than 100 casualties.
Mr. F. Fulad carried on with the matter of the Cholera. The number of dead are increasing and cholera is spreading more easily in poor areas. The civil society “is hailing” the Human Rights Council and the other bodies of the United Nations to help the Yemen and send a delegation there. The speaker expressed the hope of seeing the 36th session of the Human Rights Council reaching this goal. More inquiries and pressure on the armed groups and Houthis militias can change the situation and “save the nation of Yemen”.
EF - Research Assistant at the CIPADH