On Monday, the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that the vast majority of UN agencies, including UNICEF, have cited in their reports that around half of the Houthis’ ranks are children.
The Coalition explained that the thousands of children recruited – or more likely forced – into these militias will face untold physical and psychological scars.
It also noted that the recruitment of children into the armed forces violates international humanitarian and criminal law, but yet, the international community has failed to put in place serious responses to stop the intense growth of child soldiers in the region.
They called on the UN Human Rights Council to intervene in the crisis, perhaps putting in place programmes or initiatives to reintegrate child soldiers into society, in order to protect the Yemeni children.
Iran’s long history of child soldiers
Of course, it should not be surprising that the Iran-backed Houthis are using child soldiers.
Many Iranian proxies have been caught using children in warfare over the past few years, most notably Hezbollah was found to be recruiting children as young as 12 into their armed units in the Syrian Civil War just last year, according to Human Rights Watch.
In fact, the disturbing practice of Iran sending children into battle dates back to the early 1980s, when the Regime was fighting the Iran-Iraq War. During the war, children as young as nine were used to sweep minefield on the Iran-Iraq border, before troops were sent in, while more than 33,000 high school-aged students were killed.
Notably, the number killed is substantially more than those wounded, which is unusual for more armed conflicts. The reason for this is that the children lack military training are treated as little more than human shields by the Iranian Regime.
Last year, the Iranian Regime’s Parliament refused to join the United Nations Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which bans the recruitment of children under 18 into active military combat and calls on states to criminalise the act of recruiting a child.
It should be clear from this that the Iranian Regime does not care about the children of Iran or its neighbouring countries and is prepared to let them die to ensure the survival of the Regime. The children will not be safe until the Regime is forced out of the region as a whole.