UN says 2,000 child soldiers killed in Yemen: Houthis and the Middle East
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Experts within the United Nations (UN) say that nearly 2,000 child soldiers fighting for Houthi forces have been killed between January 2020 and May 2021. The UN panel knows that 1,406 child soldier deaths occurred in 2020 – and a further 562 children were killed from January to May in 2021.
Houthis claim endless discrimination against the Shia within the internal power mechanisms of Yemen is to blame for the ensuing conflict. Similarly, the Houthis blame regional Sunni Islamic elites throughout the Gulf for supporting the marginalization of the Shia in Yemen. Therefore, elites within the Houthis blame internal and external factors behind the brutal war.
However, it is abhorrent that children are being forced to fight in this brutal conflict, irrespective of the justice of each side in this war of attrition. Hence, the Houthis should be condemned internationally for indoctrinating and training children to die on the battlefield. Also, Iran should take a good look at itself. After all, did the Iranian Islamic Revolution mean the systematic abuse of children in distant conflicts?
Various forces within the Middle East – irrespective of the Sunni Muslim bloc, Shia Iran, or NATO Turkey and Qatar intrigues – all support various proxies that care little about human life. Hence, it is time for a proper internal Middle East conference to be held. This concerns the need to stop endless bloodshed in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen – while stemming the destabilizing other nations, including Lebanon.
Associated Press reports, “U.N. experts said in a new report that nearly 2,000 children recruited by Yemen’s Houthi rebels died on the battlefield between January 2020 and May 2021, and the Iranian-backed rebels continue to hold camps and courses encouraging youngsters to fight.”
Arab News says, “Yemen has been engulfed in civil war since 2014 when the Houthis took Sanaa, the capital, and much of the northern part of the country, forcing the government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia. This led to the formation of coalition of Arab states, now called the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, in 2015, seeking to restore the government to power.”
James Elder, a spokesperson for UNICEF, said last year, “A child dies in Yemen of something that is preventable every 10 minutes. And that is certainly a number that unfortunately has not changed in the last couple of years…Yemen is the most difficult place in the world to be a child. Incredulously, it is getting worse.”
Serious regional negotiations by all parties involved in various conflicts must be held. After all, the linkage of one conflict often goes hand in hand with other conflicts concerning the respective geopolitical angles of Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and other regional nations.
How many more children must die in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other nations before all sides admit that full success on the battlefield is not sustainable by any side. Therefore, a conference – of substance – is needed to address the many complex issues that exist in the Middle East.
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