Al Jazeera obtains exclusive footage proving presence of child soldiers in recruitment camp of Saudi-UAE-led coalition.
Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage that proves the presence of child soldiers in the recruitment camps of the Saudi-UAE-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
The children, desperately poor, are being recruited to fight along the Saudi border to defend it from the Houthis, a rebel group that overran the capital, Sanaa, and large swaths of Yemen’s northwest in 2014.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) formed a coalition to overthrow the Houthis – plunging Yemen into a ruinous war – supported by forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognised government.
The conflict has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine and leaving about 80 percent of its population – 24 million people – in need of humanitarian assistance.
However, many children face an even worse reality: being recruited by either warring side to fight in the conflict. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the child soldiers in Yemen fight for the Houthis. The others fight for the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.
Although Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed the international protocol banning involvement of children in armed conflict in 2007 and 2011, respectively, at the end of 2018, Saudi Arabia was accused of recruiting Sudanese children from Darfur to fight on its behalf in Yemen.
Today, Yemeni children are being recruited using local trafficking networks to defend the Saudi border.
Bereaved families interviewed by Al Jazeera questioned why the coalition would need to recruit children to fight in its war. Al Jazeera investigated these claims.