SANA’A – Al-Jazeera news channel has published an investigative survey on Monday about Saudi Arabia’s recruitment of Yemeni children from several provinces as drafted child soldiers to be used in battle.
In a 11-minute investigation documentary which included tragic stories of children who were pushed by hard life in their villages, caused by the crisis brought about by the Saudi invasion, to seek suitable jobs that would enable them to support their families and save them from hunger, falling into the hands of “soldier brokers” who lead them to what the reporter called “childhood incinerators”.
The report confirms that traffickers, who arrange buses transporting children to areas of clashes at the border after collecting the identity papers, receive 500 Saudi riyals (about 133 dollars) per child. The second party receives 1,000 Saudi riyals (about 266 dollars) per child, and hands them over to a third smuggler, whom gives them the group’s identity papers and in turn receives for each person 1500 Saudi riyals ($400), after which the children are sent into battle.
According to Tawfiq al-Humaidi of the Sam Human Rights Organization, the investigation indicates that “there are no accurate statistics of the numbers of civilians and children in these battles, because of the inability of international organizations to reach these fronts, but they are in the thousands.”
The report revealed that the smugglers take Yemeni children to the border area of Najran in order to force them into protecting the Kingdom’s borders.
The report recounts the death journey of children as young as 16, who start from the city of Taiz and take days through the buses, heading to Al-Wade’a crossing point with Saudi Arabia.
Al Jazeera’s investigation was based on exclusive videos proving the presence of children in those places, specifically the two border Fronts of Al-Boqa’ and Kitaf.
According to the investigation, Saudi Arabia has resorted to attracting children and mercenaries to defend its borders instead of its ozn soldiers, because of the exorbitant compensation paid by the Saudi Ministry of Defence to the families of Saudi soldiers. Foreigners receive no such recompensation from Riyadh.
“Saudi Arabia has not been able to protect its borders from the attacks of the Houthis [the term used by some foreign news agencies to describe the Army and Popular Committees that have been defending Yemen for more than four years],” Al Jazeera said.
“They have recruited civilians and children in twisted ways from inside and outside Yemen. They [the Saudi government] grant urgent assistance to Saudi soldiers for a hundred thousand riyals, and their family is compensated for 1 million Saudi riyals, in addition to other obligations under the Saudi government. In contrast, it only costs 15,000 Saudi riyals for a mercenary.”
Saudi Arabia has recently been accused of recruiting child soldiers from Darfur, exploiting the needs of the poor in its war against Yemen, and documenting its recruitment of Yemeni children by Saudi Arabia in subtle ways to defend it, despite its ratification of the Protocol on the Non-Involvement of Children in War in 2011.