The plight of children in Yemen: bound for terrorism?
As if the trafficking of children wasn't already a crisis, reports now indicate that extremist fundamentalist groups seek to recruit vulnerable children and young adults for their causes.
SANAA, 5 February (IRIN) - Saudi and Yemeni authorities have agreed to make a more concerted effort to crack down on child trafficking between the two countries. This comes as child specialists in Yemen have warned that trafficked children are at risk of becoming terrorists as they might be lured into Islamic extremist groups on either side of the border.
"Trafficked children face a lot of problems. But the problem of child trafficking has seen a new trend, and that is when these children are adopted by terrorist or extremist groups," Colonel Ali Awad Farwa, the general manager of the General Administration of Women and Juvenile Affairs at the Yemeni Ministry of Interior, told IRIN.
Farwa said trafficked children are usually teenagers, an age where their minds can be manipulated easily.
Jamal al-Shami, the Chairman of Democracy School, a local NGO dealing with child issues, said that trafficked children often feel a lot of resentment towards their own society and are susceptible to joining or forming terrorist groups or criminal gangs.
"Trafficked children undergo tremendous hardships, and would take revenge against their society, which they think is responsible for their plights," al-Shami said.
According to al-Shami, children who are trafficked to Saudi Arabia are often subjected to sexual harassment, insults, beatings, prostitution and are sometimes killed. He said over the past few months, a 16-year-old Yemeni child who was trafficked to Saudi Arabia returned home with HIV/AIDS.
What is more worrying is when these children go missing and no-one reports it, said specialists.
"Some children are missing when they are smuggled across the borders, but their parents don't report this," said Farwa, adding that only three cases of missing children were reported in 2006.