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ICC Note:

The Minister for Youth in Yemen’s rebel government has suggested suspending all school classes for a year and sending students to the front lines as soldiers. Yemen’s schools are already largely empty, and both sides regularly recruit child soldiers in the conflict. However, the minister’s recent comments are alarming in that they show the depth of the conflict’s tragic reach into children’s lives. Whenever conflicts exist, religious minorities are always at risk and their children represent a particularly vulnerable demographic. Yemen’s Christian population are already forced to lay low, and are provided no avenues for the protection of their children from the implications of the civil war.


10/24/2017 Yemen (The Guardian) –   The youth minister in war-torn Yemen’s rebel government has proposed suspending school classes for a year and sending pupils and teachers to the front.

Hassan Zaid, the minister for youth and sports in an administration set up by Iran-backed Huthi rebels, suggested pupils and teachers could be armed.

“Wouldn’t we be able to reinforce the ranks with hundreds of thousands (of fighters) and win the battle?” he wrote on Facebook.

Yemen has been devastated by a war between the Huthis, who control the capital, Sana’a, and the internationally recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

A teachers’ strike in rebel territory, in protest at salaries going unpaid for about a year, delayed the start of the school year by two weeks. When they did open on Sunday, classrooms were largely empty.

Social media users responded angrily to the minister’s post. “What if we let the students study and sent the ministers and their bodyguards to the front?” one wrote. “That would give us victory and a prosperous future.”

Zaid criticised those who complained about his proposal. “People close the schools under the pretext of a strike and when we think about how to take advantage of this situation, they take offence,” he said.

Unicef estimates that 13,146 schools – 78% – of Yemen’s schools, have been hit by the salary crunch, while nearly 500 schools have been destroyed during the conflict orturned into shelters or commandeered by armed factions.

According to the United Nations, more than 8,650 people have been killed, including mat least 1,550 children, since the Saudi-led coalition joined the Yemen war in 2015, sparking a humanitarian disaster.

Human rights organisations accuse both sides of recruiting child soldiers.

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