Specifically, the president has waived nearly $50 million in Direct Commercial Sales, more than $78.9 million in Foreign Military Financing, more than $33.9 million in Foreign Military Sales, more than $4.8 million in International Military Education and Training, and more than $152.9 million in Section 1206 or Section 333 assistance. The president denied Yemen $225,000 in Direct Commercial Sales due to CSPA prohibitions.
According to the U.S. State Department, Yemeni government and government-aligned forces have reportedly recruited and used child soldiers since 2009. This includes Yemen’s armed forces as well as the Security Belt Forces, a Yemeni government-aligned paramilitary group, both of which reportedly continued to recruit and use child soldiers between April and September 2020. Child soldier recruitment accelerated following the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni government in 2014 and the ensuing armed conflict. In 2019, the UN Group of Experts on Yemen reported that all parties to the war had recruited and used more than 3,000 children in their operations. Government forces have allegedly used child soldiers to guard checkpoints and military facilities, and there are reports – though unverified – that government forces used children as uniformed soldiers in combat. According to an international organization, at least 65 children between the ages of 12 and 17 were recruited and used by armed groups in Yemen between April and September 2020, compared to 23 from the previous reporting period.
The Yemeni government has taken some steps to address the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In 2014, it signed a U.N. Action Plan to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers, which established specific steps for the release of children serving in its armed forces, among other things. However, Yemen has yet to implement the U.N. Action Plan. Since the plan was signed in 2014, officials have not reported demobilizing any child soldiers and have made limited efforts to do so. Efforts to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers have for years been encumbered by nascent but hampered political will, overlapping security, political, and economic crises, cultural acceptance of child soldiers, and weak law enforcement mechanisms. That said, the government has made efforts to raise awareness of child soldier issues, including by hosting trainings for defense and security officials on child soldier issues in 2019 and making public statements expressing its commitment to addressing the issue and discouraging recruitment and use of children by armed groups. And in January 2020, the government of Yemen entered into an agreement through the U.N. that created a roadmap for the implementation of the 2014 action plan, though no progress has been made to implement it. Additionally, between April 2020 and March 2021, the government operated an interim care center, funded by Saudi Arabia, to assist former child soldiers.
For more information, see the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. More information on the situation in Yemen can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict and country-specific report on Yemen.