Videos have surfaced on social media purportedly showing the militarization of schools in Yemen controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis.
In one clip, young children reportedly from al-Assriyah Modern School in Sana’a act out a play in which a boy is called to war and is killed in battle, supposedly becoming a martyr. The boy’s mother in the play then hands his rifle to another child.
Recruitment of #Yemeni children in Houthi-controlled areas begins at the school.— عبده علي الحذيفي (@abduhothifi) April 23, 2021
Textbook, school theater, school activities ... It is used to recruit children and influence their thinking
The video is translated into English#YemenCantWait @UNICEF @UNESCOarabic @UN @OSE_Yemen pic.twitter.com/prNbwPkMrk
“For the sake of pride, for the sake of dignity, we must sacrifice so that future generations live in pride and honor,” the boy said in the performance that was watched by other schoolchildren.
The Houthi militia have forcibly recruited 10,300 children in Yemen since 2014, according to a report released in February by The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the SAM for Rights and Liberties.
The same report showed that the Iran-backed Houthis use schools and other educational centers to recruit minors into their ranks.
The militia has also targeted the education system by disseminating propagandistic textbooks spreading hate against the group’s opponents as part of the school curriculum, according to a study published by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE).
Reading material for schoolchildren reportedly shows graphic images of deceased bodies and portrays the US as a “Greater Satan” responsible for the evils of the world.
Yemen’s president Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi pledged to end child recruitment into the government’s armed forces in a 2012 meeting with the United Nations’ Leila Zerrougui, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi “also pledged to work towards the reintegration of children,” said Zerrougui after a 2012 meeting with al-Houthi.