Yemen: Houthi’s new pledge ‘encouraging step’ to protect children


At the start of a two-month nationwide ceasefire, the Houthis signed an action plan with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict; killing and maiming children; and attacks on schools and hospitals.

“The United Nations welcomes the efforts of all parties to the conflict to end and prevent serious abuses against children and this new Houthis commitment is a positive and encouraging step in that direction,” the Special Representative said. of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC). Virginia Gamba.

After signing the action plan in New York as a witness, Ms Gamba welcomed this additional measure to strengthen the protection of Yemeni children who have suffered tremendously after seven years of destructive conflict.

Unpacking the plan

By signing the Action Plan, all major parties to the conflict in Yemen have committed to ending and preventing serious abuses against children.

The Houthis have pledged to stop recruiting and using children – including in support roles – by removing them from their ranks within six months and providing reintegration support.

The action plan also includes provisions on preventing their killing and maiming and protecting health and education facilities.

“The hardest part of the journey starts now,” the special representative said.

Humanitarian access needed

More than 10,200 children have been killed or maimed, according to CAAC, and nearly 3,500 have been identified as having been used since the conflict in Yemen began.

The country also ranks high in the number of incidents in which humanitarian access, including for children, has been denied.

The Special Representative called on Houthis to facilitate access for humanitarian actors to conflict-affected communities and to re-prioritize children’s rights and needs.

The action plan should be fully implemented and lead to concrete actions to improve the protection of children in Yemen‘ she claimed.

Negotiating Peace

The Action Plan has opened the door to address Yemen’s urgent humanitarian and economic needs while creating a real opportunity to relaunch Yemen’s political process.

Ms Gamba called on all parties to the conflict to use the current ceasefire to include child protection provisions in ongoing peace negotiations.

It reiterated the UN’s availability to support Houthis and other Yemeni parties in measures to strengthen the protection of children from the ravages of hostilities.

“Ultimately, achieving lasting peace is the best way to protect children in Yemen and should be the primary goal of all parties to the conflict in the country,” the senior UN official stressed.

Other UN Voices

The UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, saw the plan as “a step in the right direction to protect Yemen’s children.”

“The UN is committed to the welfare of children and is helping the authorities of Sana’a and the forces they control to put the plan into action from now on,” he said.

At the same time, UNICEF representative Philippe Duamelle described the signing as “an important milestone” for Yemeni children “whose lives have been so horribly impacted by the conflict.

“We look forward to the full implementation of the action plan and to work with all parties for the protection and well-being of children in Yemen,” added Mr Duamelle.

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