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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Child soldiers transferred to Yemeni forces for rehabilitation 

Houthi rebels have forcibly conscripted children, posing a challenge for the Arab coalition 

Pro-Houthi female supporters and children hold weapons during a gathering to show support to the Iran-backed rebels, in Sana’a, Yemen, 13 January 2018. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Pro-Houthi female supporters and children hold weapons during a gathering to show support to the Iran-backed rebels, in Sana’a, Yemen, 13 January 2018. Yahya Arhab / EPA

Dozens of children enlisted by Iran-backed Houthi militias have been transferred to Yemeni forces to be rehabilitated through Saudi-funded programmes.

The rebels recruited and deployed the youths on the northern front, where 27 were captured by Saudi forces last week.

The handover was carried out by the International Red Cross and the Saudi Red Crescent authorities in Marib province, Saba Net reported

The Houthis began storming public schools in rebel-held areas earlier this month to recruit pupils as fighters, some through kidnapping.

Pro-government forces captured 50 soldiers on January 8, and found 30 were underage, some as young as 10 years old.

The area's police chief said the Houthis' use of child soldiers across Yemen is a sign of their disregard for moral values and a direct violation of international law.

He said the youths in police custody would be cared for in line with guidelines set by the humanitarian organisations present.

The King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Affairs is working on a project to help rehabilitate children conscripted in the war in Yemen.

More than 80 children have been rehabilitated in the centre after serving extensive tours with the Houthi militias.

Saudi Arabia has also been working on rebuilding Yemeni infrastructure. On Wednesday, the minister of public works and highway control, Dr Maeen Abdulmalik, signed an agreement with the Saudi embassy to build much-needed roads, aimed at speeding up the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The programme will begin by repairing 84km of three routes that link the northern provinces in Yemen with the south.

"This project will provide nearly 15,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities," the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Jabir, said on Twitter.