In Yemen we are researching why and how children are being recruited, how to facilitate their return to civilian life, and what communities need to help prevent the practice.

The issue

Since the escalation of conflict in Yemen in March 2015, children have been subjected to high levels of violence. The recruitment and use of children by the Houthi armed group, pro-Government militias and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has surged – the UN has reported a five-fold increase in the problem since early 2015. Increasingly, children are forcibly recruited and given jobs on the front line of the conflict (e.g. at checkpoints). Child protection agencies have struggled to safeguard children in a climate of chronic violence and worsening political insecurity.

Our impact

Our research will help to develop strategies for preventing the recruitment of children, facilitating their release from military exploitation, and supporting them to return to their families and communities.

Our awareness-raising work in conflict-affected areas will support families, community members and local organisations to safeguard children from involvement with fighting forces.

Our advocacy at an international level will support and challenge national and international bodies to reduce and end child recruitment in Yemen.

What we’ll do next

Once our initial research is complete, we will work with communities and local and national organisations to help safeguard children from military exploitation, and to raise awareness of children’s rights. We also intend to engage the government, the UN and other influential bodies in a dialogue towards introducing effective measures to end the use of child soldiers in the country.


The conflict in Yemen does not feature often in the Western news, but it is having a devastating effect on children. Airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and an increase in the number and magnitude of attacks by an array of armed groups, including al-Houthi, al-Qaeda, and 'Islamic State' have led to a high rate of civilian casualties, mass displacement and large numbers of children being recruited into fighting forces. A ceasefire which commenced on 10 April 2016 and ongoing UN-backed peace talks in Kuwait bring some hope that peace could be on the horizon.

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