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Shooting instead of school: the stolen childhood of children in Yemen

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Shooting instead of school: the stolen childhood of children in Yemen
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REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Going to school: an act of resistance in a war-torn country like Yemen, where children are made into soldiers. Two million children are prevented from going to school: many prefer to join militias. Laura Silvia Battaglia, a war reporter, was in Brussels to raise awareness about this emergency.

In addition to that, the war has increased a wide-spread habit among poor families. "Many families decide to sell their children for about $ 1,000 to people who then employ them in drug trafficking to Saudi Arabia," she says.

Caught in fights, starved to death, and sexually abused, in Yemen children are among the main victims, a fact this activist denounces as the world marks 30 years on from the signing of the Children’s rights convention.

Radhya al-Mutwakel has been fighting for years to tell the world about the atrocities taking place in her country. He says that war Yemen is not forgotten, but rather ignored. She believes peace is possible if the international community puts pressure on the conflicting parties.

“The irony is that Yemen was one of the first countries that ratified the Convention on Child’s right and now in Yemen, they are facing violations more than ever. We should not celebrate the 30th anniversary of the convention. We should evaluate it: because a celebration where millions of children, not only in Yemen but all over the world are still suffering is a little bit weird”.

Many European countries are fueling the war in Yemen by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Human rights organizations are calling on the EU to pile on pressure.

“Every bid of pressure counts. I think it is up to the new commission, the new high representative to show leadership and to show that a Europe based on values also is a Europe based on ethical foreign policy values”.

The new European Commission is taking office in December, but MEPs will debate the state of Children’s right next week, keeping the issue in the spotlight.

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