Child Labour Modern Slavery News Trafficking

How The Yemen War is Creating Slavery

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children are being recruited by certain rebel groups, to engage in armed conflict

[Martyna Żuchowska]

Yemen is currently facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Millions of people are on the brink of starvation because all the country’s supply channels have been blocked off. Most citizens don’t have access to fresh water and are malnourished. This atrocity is due to the war that is occurring between Yemen’s Muslim groups and Saudi Arabia, which is dropping bombs on Yemen that are funded by The United States. Due to Yemen’s isolation from humanitarian aid and the constant violence that is occurring, more civilians and vulnerable to being sucked into the modern slavery industry. In a country that was already high on the list in slavery, this recent war has worsened it’s case and there seems to be no end in sight.

NGOs have reported this increase in vulnerability due to the country’s increasing violence, conflict and lawlessness. It has also been difficult for these humanitarian organisations to report accurately on the situation, because of entry points and routes into the country and certain areas, being blocked off. Without good access to the country’s vulnerable areas, no one can accurately state how damaging the issue truly is. The most prominent types of trafficking that have been reported in Yemen are forced child labour and sex trafficking. NGOs have discovered that before Yemen’s government’s departure from the country’s capital, Sana’a in 2015, there were 1.7 million child labourers under the age of 14 in Yemen. Many of these children would have been forced into work but organisations can only guess from this point because without a practicing  government, various information on the citizens is near impossible to obtain.

Many young boys are forced into domestic services and begging on the streets. We also know that some traffickers take Yemeni children to Saudi Arabia and force them into sex trafficking once they get there. Yemen even has a history of women and children being brought over from African countries to be sold and trafficked. Due to the horrible conflict that is ongoing in Syria, up  to 100,000 Syrians have migrated as refugees over to Yemen. This forces many refugees to sit on the streets and beg which also puts them in a vulnerable position when it comes to traffickers looking to exploit people. The extremely archaic practice of trading humans for property was recorded to still be occurring in Yemen in 2016. Without any more data, we can only guess that this practice is still occurring due to the fact that Yemen lacks authority and law enforcement for now.

Another horrific side to the war and violence that is constantly unfolding, is the fact that some children are being recruited by certain rebel groups, to engage in armed conflict. Some recruitment may be consensual but a lot of it is likely not to be. In any case, the very notion that children are being used as weapons in a war is absurd. Here on this platform we have discussed child exploitation many many times, but children engaging in military combat in this day and age, is a whole new nightmare of a ball game. Because of the lack of control the Yemeni government has in the country, it hasn’t been able to eradicate the issue or even give aid to the minors who have been recruited.

Yemen’s crisis is very complex and the background behind the conflict goes back many years. It is difficult to summarise such an intense war and issue which also happens to be isolated in terms of roads and entry points for NGOs. It is easy to surmise how a country in crisis can fall victim to an increase in trafficking. With most civilians being in a vulnerable and helpless position, so many more adults and children are at risk of being exploited as a slave. International intervention from the United States and Saudi Arabia has not only caused Yemenis to be in a crisis, but also for thousands of people being killed.

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