Saudis Heavily Recruited Child Soldiers From Darfur for Yemen War

Kingdom offered $10,000 to families to send children to war

While Saudi Arabia is already awash in allegations of war crimes against children in Yemen, there are always more reports emerging. Over the weekend, the focus is on the large number of child soldiers fighting for the Saudi-led coalition, and the Saudi kingdom’s efforts to recruit such children.

The offensive against the vital aid port of Hodeidah rested heavily on a large influx of Sudanese troops fighting for the Saudi-led coalition. Sudanese soldiers say that a lot of the fighters sent were children, however, with estimates of at least 20 percent under the age of 18, and as many as 40% in some units.

This was possible because Saudi Arabia put a lot of money into recruitment in the desperately impoverished Darfur region, offering as much as $10,000 to families who agreed to enlist their children to go fight in Yemen. By all indications, many did.

While Sudanese troops confirmed that this was common in Yemen, Saudi Arabia issued a statement of blanket denial, saying that they’d never recruited Sudanese children nor paid Sudan at all, and that Sudan was only in the war “in the interest of regional peace.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.