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Saudi in Yemen: From Hiring U.S. Mercenaries to Sudanese Children

Last updated on January 6th, 2019

Fighting to live another day, is the new concept that Saudi-led coalition is exploiting to continue the war in Yemen. The coalition is reportedly hiring children from Darfur to join its military campaign in Yemen.

As per the New York Times, as many as 14,000 Sudanese Militiamen have been fighting for the Saudi-led coalition, with the sole hope of earning money and leading a better life.

Almost all the Sudanese fighters hired by the Saudi-led coalition have come from an already desolated region of Darfur. They come from a place, where some 300,000 people were killed and another 1.2 million were displaced during a dozen years of conflict over the diminishing arable land and other finite resources. The condition of the nation and the eagerness to earn money has also seen some families bribe militia officers to let their son go fight.

The hiring of children in armed conflicts violates the international humanitarian law, yet the coalition has been involved in hiring new children, promising them a much better life once they return from the war-torn nation of Yemen.

According to the fighters interviewed by the Times, five fighters who returned from Yemen and another about to leave, said that children made up to at least 20 percent of their units.

“People are desperate. They are fighting in Yemen, because they know that in Sudan they don’t have a future,” said Hafiz Ismail Mohamed, a former banker, economic consultant and critic of the government. He added, “We are exporting soldiers to fight like they are a commodity we are exchanging for foreign currency.”

The Saudi payments are increasingly important for the people of Sudan, because of its worsening condition. At almost 70% inflation, and residents lining up for bread, fuel, and bank withdrawals, the living conditions are completely messy.

The fighters who returned from Yemen explained how the coalition carries on the entire process. Beginning with Sudanese jets departing from Khartoum or Nyala, Darfur, they carry 2000, to 3,000 soldiers at a time to the kingdom. The fighters are then delivered inside the camps, alongside some 5,000 to 6,000 more Sudanese.

The coalition further gives everyone the uniforms, believed to be manufactured by the U.S., and provides four weeks of training, to teach the basics in assembling and cleaning of the gun.

Finally, the groups are divided into units of about 500 to 750 fighters, and land over in Yemen, to fight in the Midi Desert, the Khalid ibn Walid camp in Taiz, or around Aden and Hudaydah. The fighters also confirmed that everyone is fighting for money and have no personal interest.

Payments of about $480 per month for a 14-year-old novice, to about $530 per month are made for an experienced fighter. Additional payments or bonuses ranging from $185 to $285 are also given, in case the fighter needs to indulge in combat any month. The payments are deposited directly into the Faisal Islamic Bank of Sudan, partly owned by the Saudis.

Clearly, there is a need to stop the Saudi-led coalition, which apart from killing of civilians in Yemen is luring kids to pick up weapons and making them contribute to the worsening condition of Yemen.

Contrarily, following such grave violations, the US senators have now passed a bill to halt the supply of arms to Saudi Arabia, allegedly used in raging the war in Yemen.

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