Summary on Seyaj's role in withstanding Child Recruitment and Engagement in Armed Disputes in Yemen
Efforts exerted by Seyaj Organization for Childhood Protection:
Since its creation, Seyaj has given its priorities to stand against child recruitment and protect children from involvement in any violence acts. In 2009, Seyaj opened the file of children in unprecedented way as it demanded the Yemeni government to take real actions to end the child recruitment and engagement in armed disputes.
On Jan. 25, Seyaj sent letters to the fighting tribes in Amran governorate in particular and other fighting tribes in general, set out, for the first time, that the majority of fighters were under the legal age and appealed to the tribes to end child recruitment.
In late 2009, Seyaj in collaboration with the he United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued its first field report of its kind abut violence against children in armed disputes in Saada. Recruitment of children was among the most significant components of the report and that was largely reflected in the report of Secretary General of UN Ban Ki-Moon.
Seyaj has focused on child recruitment file, gave it a great importance in its programs and activities during 2010 and monitored these violations on the base of the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 in 2005 and UN Resolutions 1882 of 2009.
In 2011, Seyaj largely interested in child recruitment as a result of the remarkable increase of recruited children who were exploited by fighting sides that viewed children as alternatives to their trained forces that they were keen to retain.
With the outbreak of peaceful protests in February, 2011,and the raising of violations and crimes rates against civilians including large number of children, Seyaj in collaboration with UNICEf created an emergency unit for monitoring , documentation and support. The monitoring of child recruitment and engagement in conflicts was among its priorities.
On the basis of our belief in the need to work with children living in the harsh conditions, we have decided to launch a campaign against recruitment of children in Yemen.
About 2011 Campaign
On Nov. 13, 2011, the first campaign against child recruitment was launched in Yemen as a first stage which is to be concluded in the end of 2011.
Depending on monitoring and documentation of child recruitment cases largely prevailed in all units of the military, whether in those pro-revolution or anti-revolution units or armed tribes.
The plan and activities of this stage included the following:
1- Inauguration of the campaign on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2011.
2- Sending note verbal to Prime Ministry, Defence Ministry, the First Armored Division, the Republican Guards, the Central Security in which Seyaj demanding to carry out the following:
a-Demobilize all under-18 child soldiers
b-Investigate those officials involved in child recruitments and refer them to justice
c- Contribute in finding out special programs to rehabilitate, reintegrate child soldiers psychologically, physically and socially.
d- Reconsidering their admission and recruitment policy in order to ban the admission of children as soldiers or fighters in future.
3- Holding a panel discussion involving journalists, writers and some media officers.
4- Designing and publishing some posters and brochures related to the topic.
5- Production and broadcasting of TV flashes on some local space channels.
6- Holding a panel discussion, involving artistes and directors, on the role of art in withstanding child recruitment and the ways of embodying same in their arts.
The campaign received positive reactions by media outlets and some concerned authorities. Among these responses are the following:
1- After two days of the campaign, Yemen's cabinet included child recruitment in armed disputes among" the national matrix to carry out recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council mission" discussed on Nov. 14, 2011
2- Commander of the First Armored Division Ali Mohsin Saleh Al-Ahmar issued a resolution dated (November 3, 2011) demobilizing 100 child soldiers. Seyaj was invited to verify and supervise the implementation. Mr. Abdullah Al-Hadheri, Chairman of the First Armored Division's military prosecution, confirmed that they would carry out medical check-ups for all potential underage recruits to determine their age and give orders to a neutral, joint committee made up of Seyaj, the First Armored Division, and any other governmental or legal authority to demobilize all minors.
3- The Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmed issued directives (9364/75) dated (November 15, 2011) to demobilize all underage recruits and refer those responsible to the judiciary.
4- On December 25, Mr. Mohammed Al-Jma'ae, director of Women and Children's Department at the Ministry of Interior, and Mr.Khaled Al-Khabiri from the same Ministry paid a visit to Seyaj during which they expressed readiness to cooperate on this issue in particular and other child-related issues in general.
5- We still appeal to other military services (the Interior Ministry, the Central Security and the Republican Guards) to react and respond to the campaign.