The assassination of children in Yemen,Ma'rib .Iman Hanna The assassination of children in Yemen,Ma'rib .Iman Hanna

VIDEO - Yemeni children reveal secrets of Houthi camps recruitment: Rape, drug abuse

Thu, Dec. 27, 2018
Ma'rib,Yemen – 27 December 2018: In Yemen, there are numerous violations of children's rights. The violations are displacement, kidnapping, murder, and forced recruitment into the ranks of the militias in clear violation of all conventions, treaties and laws on child protection and human rights.

When the pressure increased on Al-Houthi, after refusal of the Yemenis to comply with their threats to join their ranks, the Houthis resorted to the meanest methods. They forcibly abducted children from the streets, schools and houses and forced them to take up arms and join the ranks of the militia. Hence families voluntarily chose displacement to protect their children from the unknown fate on the front lines.


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According to statistics from the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights, the number of children recruited by the Houthis is 10,000 children between 2015 and 2018.



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We visited the recruited children rehabilitation center in Ma'rib. There, we found children who returned from different battle fronts in Yemeni governorates




الطفل ناجى ناصر .. أجبرونا ناخد برشام وبعدها كنا ندوخ


Although they come from different areas, but the tragedy connects them; the tragedy of being a child and instead of wearing the school uniform, you wear the army combat uniform; instead of carrying a pen and a bag, you carry a weapon that is often heavier than your malnourished or sometimes starving body.




Some of these children were handed over by the Coalition Forces to the center, where we also met with training and rehabilitation officials to learn about the difficulties they face in rebuilding what was destroyed in the minds of these children. Houthi was not only exploiting them on the fronts but sought to fill their minds with Jahadi thought and sectarian ideology and tried to teach them misinterpretations of the Koranic verses. They went through all of this, in addition to the psychological effects of carrying arms at this early age.


Saif: They forcibly took me from the market

Among dozens of his colleagues, who are connected by one fate, we found Saif sitting quietly, filled with fear to even talk. Saif Abdullah, 10 years, barely answered our questions, saying, “I am from Omran governorate, and was fighting on the front with the Houthis”. He added in his Bedouin dialect how he joined the ranks of the Houthis, "One day I was buying something from the market and the Houthis came and took me by force, and I started fighting with them.”

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Saqr: They made stay on the front for two months

Another child talked to us; his name is Sakr Moteab, 11, said, “They told us we will give you weapons and stay with us, and took us to the front-line. We were giving them water and bread, and we stayed where we didn’t see anybody but them. I fought with them in the battle of Al-Adaysat, then we went to a place they have in San’a where we read and studied the books they brought. A teacher comes to explain the books, and the next day he checks who memorized the lesson and who didn’t and informs the supervisor. Anyone who doesn’t memorize is taken to solitary confinement.”


أطفال يكشفون أسرار ليالى الظلام بجبهات الحوثيين

He talked about his observations during that period, saying, “We used to see pictures of Khomeini alongside the pictures of Abdul-Malek al-Houthi on the walls of the rooms there. Every day they organize a hearing for a lecture from the lectures of Abdul-Malek al-Houthi. They used to gather all in a room called the hearing room and listen.”

Nasser: They used to give us pills every day

The 13-year-old Nasser Mohammed reveals to us more secrets of the Houthi camps, saying: "They took me from school with 7 colleagues. They told us that they will take us to a training course. They took us to a dark place where we couldn’t know the night from the day; it was like a small underground basement in Sana’a. They ordered us to glorify Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, and to say my master Abdul Maleik al-Houthi, otherwise they would beat us.”

تعاطى المخدرات من أبشع الممارسات الحوثية ضد الأطفال

Nasser continued: “They trained us to use arms in the burning sun, on the mountain. Some of us were raped, including one of my friends. They gave us white pills every day, and ordered us to swallow them to give us strength. Latter we knew it were contraceptive pills, so that when we are wounded we don’t bleed. I used to hide them, and tell the Houthis that I swallowed them”. He added: “We participated in the battle of Al-Mocha in the West Coast. My colleagues died in front of me, and I ran away but the soldiers caught me.”

Ahmed Mohammed: They killed my brother

Ahmed Mohammed, 11 years, told us, “My brother Osama was killed on the front, and the Houthis used us instead of the animals to carry the bread and supplies to the top of the fronts. We had to obey the orders accurately no matter how tiring they are or how long they would take. One day I went to bring them food from the market, and I ran away”. He added: “They were giving us keys to attach to our hands, so when we die on the front we go to Paradise”.

العائدون من التجنيد

The child Naji Nasser, 14 years, says, “My family and I were displaced from Sana’a to Al-Mocha. One day, after I left school with my friend, and while we were walking on the road, the Houthis came and carried me and put me over a car with an armed crew. No one of the people managed to do anything to save me, for fear of the Houthis.”

He added, “They were giving us pills that made us dizzy; we couldn’t say no because if we do we get punished.”

Yehia: They made us eat qat

There are several tragedies inside the center of rehabilitation of children returning from the ranks of the Houthis, including what is told by child Yeahia Saleh, 12 years, who says, “They took us from our homes and we were training all day to use arms. They forced us to eat qat and swallow unknown pills, that made us dizzy and then they forced us to take off our clothes.”

الطفل يحىى صالح يكشف أفعال الحوثيين


Yehia continued, “One of my colleagues told them, "I want to tell my father about me place.” They shocked him by electrocution and flogged him in front of all of us, and two days later he died. They told us, "This is a lesson, so no one thinks of doing this or of mentioning his family again. You are conscripts in a sacred mission, there is no such thing as my father or my mother, and no one would call his family again. Forget them. You are here for jihad so in the end you win and take the key to paradise from your master Abdul Malek al-Houthi.”


Abdul Hameed: We were raped

Abdul Hameed al-Sayyed, 14, tells the details of what he was subjected to, “They took me from my house while I was with my family, and my father tried to prevent them, but they hit him and he fell on the ground. I was the oldest son; I went with them to Al-Makdara area. In the night they brought me a weapon so in the morning I go to the front in Serwah battle. We used to see our colleagues lying on the ground wounded and no one is trying to save them, and we hardly knew if they were wounded or not because there was no blood. We were forbidden to approach any corpse; we were told to continue on with our work.”

أطفال أعادهم التحالف لذويهم

He added, “I have been raped, and no one can open his mouth. We sat in the desert for long hours as we were trained to carry and use weapons in the heat of the burning desert without drinking a single drop of water.”

“They say that Abdul-Malek al-Houthi is a prophet and that the Koran was delivered to him and not to Prophet Mohammed. They used to say that the legitimate government is ISIS.”

Sayeed spent a year and a half with the Houthis, and ran away at night with a colleague.



أحد الأطفال العائدين من التجنيد يصف معاناته مع الحوثى

Muhammad, 14, says, “I was in the market and two people forcibly took me, and since then I didn’t see my father or mother. They put me in a room where there were many other children. Some of them were crying because they were young, may be 7 or 8 years. From the time I entered they gave me clothes and told me this is the army combat uniform, you will fight and will win paradise, Abdul Malek al-Houthi will take you to paradise through Jihad. Then they gave me books and told me to read them carefully, and that a teacher will explain to me whatever I can’t understand. But I didn’t read and everyday they asked me and threatened to beat and torture me if I didn’t read the books, so I started reading.”

The challenges of children's rehabilitation


Nathra Al-Omari, the educational supervisor in the children rehabilitation center, began by clarifying that the project started four months ago and includes four stages. The results of the first and second stages were the graduation of 4 classes of psychologically and educationally rehabilitated children with a total of 81 children between the ages of 8 and 14. She adds that these children were received from the governorates of Marib, Al-Jawf, Taiz and Omran, indicating that the third and fourth stages are targeting 81 children from all governorates; 27 of them have been completed, so that a total of 107 children have been rehabilitated and enrolled in school.


أطفال علمهم الحوثى حمل السلاح وإدمان المخدرات

She added that they follow with the family and the school for 3 months so they can assure the child is alright, but the problem is that the duration of training is not enough, because some of them are clinging to their ideas and reforming those ideas needs more time.

Nathra Al-Omari said, "We have discovered that some of these children have been raped and others have taken drugs”.

"Rehabilitation is carried out on several axes, including the psychological, educational, social and cultural aspects, as well as the religious aspects, because these children were indoctrinated with the ideas of the Houthis and Jahadi thought . They were taught and convinced that fighting is Jihad that will take them to paradise. They were also taught rituals contrary to the Sunni doctrine in prayer. ... We found keys with them and when asked they said: these are the keys to Paradise.”

إخصائية تربوية بالمركز توضح تحديات إعادة تأهيل الأطفال العائدين من التجنيد

She continued that these children have been indoctrinated with erroneous interpretations of the Koranic verses, and to address this they use education experts and clerics. She added that sometimes they find it very difficult to change the ideas of some children as they cling to what they have learned at the Houthis, and a few of them try to escape and return to the Houthis again because "they are brainwashed."

Sulaiman Al-Wafi, coordinator of the rehabilitation project for conscripts, told us that the center uses specialists to correct the information that the children acquired, especially with regard to religious aspects. He added that they receive many rehabilitation and psychological courses. They are also integrated into various activities and collective games to improve their aggressive behavior. In the center they also use sports, drawing, role-playing, simulation, leisure trips, and trips to Marib cultural and archaeological sites.


He continued, "We also make sure that families are aware of the seriousness of the recruitment and the legal responsibility resulting from it, and how to deal with the child in the rehabilitation stage so that there is no setback, and we follow them periodically.”


Dr. Arafat Al-Humair, head of Rasd organization for monitoring human rights violations, said, "The children of Yemen have become fuel for the Houthi war, and they are exploiting them as a cheap tool in wars. Hundreds of them have been killed and others have been permanently disabled”. He said that Houthi's methods of recruiting from Yemen are multiple, including conducting mandatory recruitment campaigns, abducting children or youth forcibly and sending them to the fronts. Some are seduced by money, and Houthis use mosques to attract them by promoting the idea that fighting will lead them to Paradise. They also use tribal elders in the collection of children to recruit them, and many of the families of these children are afraid to speak out and say their children are recruited for fear of retaliation."

Al-Humair added that it was strange that UNICEF initiated material support for schools under the control of the Houthis for the third and fourth grades. The result was that they changed the curricula to promote Shiite thought, fighting and enmity between the sons of Yemen and sectarianism. He noted that UNICEF then apologized for this, but after the Houthi curricula reached every student and it became difficult to control. He said that the international organizations are very tolerant with the Houthis and represent a cover for them, which is an “incomprehensible attitude."


Samah Hadeed of Amnesty International Regional Office considers that abducting children and forcing them to take up arms at this age and putting them on the lines of fire is frightening. She adds that those children lose their innocence and their rights, which are inherent in all countries of the world.

Contraceptive pills subject children to death

Dr. Eidaros al-Missiri, head of the department of injured and medical evacuation affairs in Aden, confirmed that the Houthis resorted to using medicines in a way that serves their interests and endangers the lives of recruited children. Several types of drugs were found in the possession of recruits either in the houses, the fronts or in the caves, and also in the clothes and bags they take with them during the fighting. They use psychotropic drugs, growth hormones, sex hormones and birth control pills, which are used by the Houthis to stop bleeding during confrontations in the battles, although it has serious complications that may lead to death. They also provide their fighters with different kinds of vitamins that prevent the person taking them from feeling hungry for several days and this has a negative and dangerous impact to their health.
Also different types of drugs affecting the nervous system were found.

These drugs make the user rambunctious, unconscious and in a state of hysterical madness under the influence of these pills.

Dr. Eidaros al-Missiri said, “We saw this in reality after capturing the Houthi fighters, as their condition differed greatly after the impact of the drugs ended. They confessed that they were under the influence of the medicines they took by order of their leaders and the doctors accompanying them.”


Psychological rehabilitation for children

The cases of rehabilitated children within the rehabilitation center are not limited to returnees from recruitment from the fronts in Marib, but also extend to children who are psychologically affected by war. The stories of these children reveal how much pain and panic Yemeni children suffer because of the Houthi crimes. Among these children is 12-year-old Abd El-Elah.

When we approached him we found him trying to hide a disability in his right hand, which was amputated from the wrist, because of the explosion of a toy-shaped device that had been placed by their evil hands in his house. But we learned that despite his shyness because of his disability, he is trying to overcome it with his constant attempts to write with his left hand. Abd El-Elah said, "I thought that inside the carton was a toy and I wanted a toy, but it exploded,” contiuing, “I learn to eat and write with my left hand but I am not used to it yet.”


الطفل عبد الإله يخجل أن يرى أحد يده بعد أن بترها بسب عبوة ناسفة وضعها الحوثى

أهالى استعادوا أطفالهم من براثن الحوثى


Abd El-Elah’s father, Abdel Wasea, told us more details, “I was sleeping in my room in the second floor, while the children were playing in the house’s yard. I was shocked by the sound of a loud explosion and the children screaming in the yard. I went down to inspect the children, and I found Abd El-Elah wounded. I carried him to the only hospital in the city. But the accident affected him psychologically so I looked for a rehabilitation center for war-affected children in the area. I found the King Salman Center, which carries out a good program to rehabilitate the conscripted children and those affected by the war.”



the reporter with minister of education in Yemen


Yemeni Minister of Education: Houthis seek to spread jihadist thought

“We have set up committees to study and examine the curriculums. Hence, we issued a ministerial decree not to receive books from Sana'a, and we got rid of the quantities that reached us. About 60% of the books are printed in Sana'a because it has the main printing press. Therefore, we solved this issue that the needs of the liberated cities will be covered through Aden Press and Mukalla ” , the Yemeni Minister of Education Dr. Abdullah Al-Lammas said During our interview with his Excellency, he discussed the crisis of education in Yemen after the war, one of a bunch crisis Yemenis suffered from..He Explained how the war destroyed Education in Yemen.
He revealed a lot of details about the educational life in Yemen during that interview below..


Books  learn children  jihadist thought



Would you tell us the impact of the war over the educational process in Yemen?


Certainly, education was one of the most affected sectors in Yemen by the Houthi coup. During the period from December 2014 to December 2017, a number of 1406 educational institutions were destroyed, in whole or in part, according to a monitoring coalition report on human rights violations, including 238 cases of kidney destruction. The attack took several forms, including hitting schools with artillery or rockets, and turning some of them into weapons stores or military barracks. Some were allocated to shelter the displaced in Taiz, Baida, Marib and Aden.



Houthi Add texts that support the thought of conflict in the minds of children

The educational process has also been affected by the displacement of educational staff and students since the coup, and we worked at full capacity to ensure that the Yemeni student would not lose a school year. After liberation, we opened the schools and worked extra periods to compensate the students and conducted ministerial tests instead of those that came From Sanaa, and we established a secret press in Aden.

The announcement by the Ministry of Education of the Houthis refers to their curriculum amendment plan

How did you overcome the shortage of the number of schools due to destruction?

First we doubled the length of the school day to be two periods; morning and evening. We also implemented training programs to address the negative psychological effects of the war and the treatment of psychological cases affected among teachers and students, especially after the difficult time which the country went through. I was in “ENMAA” area, which turned to be a displaced area to comers from crater and creek, my daughter used to stand for 3 hours to get 5 loaves of bread, in addition to the blockade.


Iranian curricula stimulate children to fight

Al - Houthi changed the title of the lesson from the struggle of mother to jihad Umm


How is the current educational situation in Yemen?
The educational process is very stable in the liberated southern governorates, Marib, Al Jawf and parts of Taiz and Baida, but the problem is in the areas controlled by the Houthis. We have 112,000 displaced students without official documents from Hodeidah, Sana'a, Hays and other areas that have not been liberated. They have been integrated into the educational process, and 670 schools have been rehabilitated in different governorates.


Misrepresentation of the curriculum to reinforce the aggressive minds of children

What are the most important problems still facing the educational process?
We recently met in Lebanon with international donors, the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF and UNESCO. We discussed a plan to support the educational process in Yemen and signed an agreement to develop the English language curriculum, but there are difficulties that we face, for example printing school books. Because of the lack of paper, the government supported us with 400 million riyals to make a tender for the purchase of paper, but it did not take long, so the students spent the second half of the current academic year without books, and the problem will be solved in September. It is necessary to ensure the arrival and provision of the school books in the rest of the provinces that will be liberated.


The decision of the Ministry of Education of the legitimacy confirms their refusal to adopt the new curriculum


There is also a crisis of overcrowded classrooms. The number of students is 90 to 120 students instead of 45 to 50 before the war. Also, school equipments are missing a lot, and about two-thirds of students sit on the ground due to the lack of seats. There is also the problem of employment in educational sector which has been suspended since 2011 because of lack of funding.

A new curriculum added by Huthi to demean the prophets in the Islamic religion


What about the educational process in Sana'a and the un-liberated places?
Unfortunately, our relationship was cut with the educational institutions in Sana'a, but in general the educational process in the areas still under the control of Houthi has been stopped and depends on the efforts of the people. Houthi imposed on the students from the first row to the sixth grade 600 riyals per month and the seventh grade to the ninth 800 riyals and 1500 SAR for secondary level , and there are 70 thousand teachers who have not been paid.



Elementary school books  learn Children the culture of war

How do you assess the role of international organizations in supporting the educational process in the presence of its headquarters in Sana'a?
There is a big problem. The presence of the headquarters of these organizations in Sana'a makes their decisions influenced by pressures exerted by Houthi. We called on these organizations to open their main offices in Aden, because there are now branch offices that do not have the decision-making power.


Change the label from the Arab Islamic Army to the Islamic Army according to Shiite curricula

This article is part of a series of articles on Yemen by Eman Hanna.Hanna has taken a 30-day trip to monitor the suffering of the people during the war
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