The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/67/845–S/2013/245) issued on 15 May 2013.
The signing of the transition agreement in Yemen, the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative and implementation mechanism in November 2011 and the launch of the political transition in February 2012 led to a decrease in the number of grave violations committed against children. Nevertheless, hostilities between the Government and Ansar al-Sharia/Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and their effect on the civilian population remained of concern and resulted in grave violations against children.
In 2012, the United Nations verified 53 reports of recruitment and use of children between 13 and 17 years of age. Of those cases of recruitment, 25 boys were recruited by the government forces, including the Yemeni Armed Forces, the Republican Guards, the newly integrated First Armoured Division, the military police and the central security forces. Many children recruited by the national armed forces were enlisted through brokers, such as military officers, family members and local sheikhs, who further facilitated their recruitment through false documentation and birth certificates. Some children reported fear of reprisal if it became known that they had enlisted with false documentation. Children often received a monthly stipend or retainer from the unit that recruited them.
The United Nations continued to face challenges in monitoring violations by the Al-Houthi armed group operating in Sa’ada governorate. Reports of recruitment and use of children could not be verified owing to security constraints. Nevertheless, the United Nations could verify the use of three boys by Al-Houthi in Hajja governorate, who were armed, manning checkpoints or “guarding” health centres. With regard to association of children with pro-Government militias, the United Nations documented the case of three children aged 13, 16 and 17 years, respectively, who were recruited and used for checkpoint duty by the Popular Resistance Committee in Abyan governorate. The recruitment and use of children by Ansar al-Sharia appeared to have increased during the reporting period. Of the 19 children verified to be associated with Ansar al-Sharia, 2 boys were killed and 3 injured in combat. The others are believed to still be with the group.
In 2012, at least 50 children (45 boys and 5 girls) were reportedly killed and 165 (140 boys and 25 girls) maimed. Many child casualties related to landmines, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war. While in most of the incidents the perpetrators remained unknown, some have been attributed to the national armed forces, Ansar al-Sharia and AQAP. Five incidents were reported of drone strikes allegedly targeting AQAP and Ansar al-Sharia in Abyan, Shabwa and Al Bayda governorates, resulting in the killing of two boys and maiming of six boys and a girl. In one such incident, a 16-year-old boy was killed by a drone strike allegedly targeting an AQAP leader. A further 14 boys were killed, and 51 boys and 10 girls maimed, by landmines or unexploded ordnance during the reporting period. Attacks with improvised explosive devices killed 11 boys and maimed 16 boys and 1 girl. Two children were killed while conducting a suicide attack.
An emerging concern with regard to Ansar al-Sharia is the sexual abuse of boys associated with the group. The United Nations documented that three boys recruited by the group had been subjected to sexual violence. The United Nations further verified seven cases of forced marriage of girls between 13 and 17 years of age in Abyan governorate with members of Ansar al-Sharia. In two of those cases, a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl were offered as “gifts” by their brothers to leaders of Ansar al-Sharia in exchange for being allowed to join the group. The number of forced marriages is likely to be underreported owing to stigmatization and fear of reprisal.
During the reporting period, the United Nations received reports of 165 incidents of attacks on schools, most of which occurred in Sana’a and Abyan governorates. Ansar al-Sharia, the First Armoured Division and Al-Houthi were responsible for the incidents. In 61 incidents, teachers and pupils were threatened or intimidated. In another 57 incidents, schools were physically damaged by shelling, aerial bombardments and improvised explosive devices. Such attacks mainly took place during clashes between the Republican Guard and armed tribal groups, and in hostilities between government forces and Ansar al-Sharia. Supporters of Ansar al-Sharia also damaged schools and destroyed textbooks in an attempt to prevent the reopening of schools. In addition, a United Nations-supported child-friendly space providing psychosocial assistance to children in Sana’a was looted by the First Armoured Division. An additional 36 incidents involved the military use of schools for weapons storage, sometimes resulting in their closure.
A total of 11 attacks on hospitals were reported in Hajja and Aden. In Hajja, Al-Houthi was responsible for nine incidents of intimidation of health personnel and eight cases of military use of medical facilities, resulting in the closure of health centres affecting some 5,000 children. The central security forces were responsible for two incidents in Aden in which they forcibly entered hospitals in search of patients and damaged the medical facilities.
The United Nations received reports of 33 incidents of denial of humanitarian access affecting children. This figure included 16 incidents of hijackings of United Nations or non-governmental organization vehicles; the abduction of 16 humanitarian personnel; 5 cases of threats against or arrests of humanitarian personnel; and physical attacks against humanitarian workers and their compounds.
Tangible progress was made in dialogue with the relevant parties on the preparation and implementation of action plans to halt and prevent violations against children. On 18 April 2012, the Minister of the Interior sent a letter to the police and other relevant authorities in which he ordered the full implementation of Police Commission Law No. 15 (2000), which stipulated 18 years as the minimum age for recruitment, and the release of any children present in the ranks of the government security forces. During an official visit to Yemen in November 2012, my Special Representative met the President and other senior government officials, in addition to the leadership of Al-Houthi and the First Armoured Division. During her visit, the Government committed itself to developing an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children. The leadership of Al-Houthi also agreed to enter into a dialogue with the United Nations on the issue. In addition, the President issued a decree to prohibit underage recruitment and immediately thereafter established an interministerial committee to serve as liaison for the development of an action plan.
Parties in Yemen
- Al-Houthi (a)
- Ansar al-Sharia (a)
- Government forces, including the Yemeni Armed Forces, the First Armoured Division, the military police, the special security forces, the Republican Guards and pro-Government militias (a)
(*) The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators. (a) Parties that recruit and use children.