A New Wave of Child Recruitment  in Yemen

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-02-13 11:46 AM UTC
A New Wave of Child Recruitment  in Yemen



The United States-Britain strikes on Yemen and the Israeli war on Palestinians in Gaza have enabled the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group to attract thousands of fighters, including children, over the last few months.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today the Houthi group has recruited more than 70,000 new fighters during the last three months in the provinces of Dhamar, Sanaa, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, and Al-Hudaydah. This mobilization of forces is ongoing as the group prepares for a long war with international troops in the Red Sea.

The HRW stated, "While it is unclear how many of the fresh recruits have been children, several activists and experts working on issues related to child recruitment said the vast majority of recruits are aged 13 to 25, including at least hundreds or thousands who are younger than 18."

Since the breakout of the civil war in Yemen in 2014, the Houthis have recruited thousands of children, according to UN reports. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, a Yemeni civil society organization, said that the Houthis recruited over 10,000 children between 2014 and 2021. The Yemeni government has also recruited children throughout the conflict.

While the Houthis' ability to attract more fighters over the last few years had dwindled, the breakout of the Gaza-Israel war served as a golden opportunity for resuming recruitment.


The Houthi leadership began further preparation for war after the U.S. forces sank three Houthi boats, killing at least ten fighters in the Red Sea on December 31. According to Houthi officials, the battle title is "The Promised Conquest and Holy Jihad."

In early January, Sheba Intelligence reported that the group kept mobilizing fighters and persuading thousands of young people to join its recruitment and training centers.


Sources said some information checks are conducted on everyone, and whoever receives a special recommendation is immediately included in the initial training centers and headquarters. Those who do not receive a recommendation are sent to the intellectual and cultural camps.


According to the report, the group used the Israeli war on Gaza as a justification through which it was able to attract citizens who rejected to side with it and fight for its cause over the seven years of war.


Ali Al-Makhdi, a Houthi supervisor in Amran province to the north of Sana'a, said last month that the number of those registered for joining the Houthi group had reached more than 12 thousand fighters in Amran. He added, "Many people came and registered with the community leaders and sheikhs in the province, and only those suitable for that were chosen. There are elderly people, children, and others who were excluded, and the number is likely to increase in the coming days."


Abdulmalek Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi group, said last week that the preparation for a long war is ongoing through "military mobilization and training," and tens of thousands of fighters have completed their military training over the past few months.