13 May 2022
Yemen’s government officials, human rights activists, religious figures and journalists have warned families living in Houthi-held areas against sending their children to the militia’s summer camps, and have accused the Iran-backed group of wanting to recruit these young people for their army.
This comes in the wake of the movement’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, ordering his supporters to open these camps in areas under their control, where he pledged to “immunize them” against misconceptions about his organization and Islam.
Houthi officials have reportedly said that 57 camps were launched in Sanaa alone, which are expected to attract hundreds of students during the upcoming summer vacations.
Yemeni officials and activists say that the Houthis are using these gatherings to radicalize and indoctrinate minors, so that they can prepare them to become soldiers.
A similar warning to parents had been issued last year when the Houthis launched these centers. The Houthis have claimed that thousands of children graduated with religious education from these camps.
However, critics have said that the children were brainwashed, taken to graveyards and trained to use weapons.
This year’s camps are being set up as the Yemeni government and the Houthis have halted hostilities under a truce brokered by the UN.
But the Houthis argue that their summer camps are meant to teach the correct recitation of the Qur’an, counter misconceptions about Islam, and prepare the new generation to fight their enemies, including Israelis.