Saudi Arabia offered as much as $10,000 to the desperate families in Sudan so that they could let their sons go and fight in the Yemeni war.
The bloody war in Yemen has led to the massive loss of lives and destruction of property. Saudi Arabia has actively participated in the war and in doing so it recruited children from Darfur in Sudan to fight the war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia went to great extents in securing such parochial goals by offering as much as $10,000 to desperate Sudanese families. The war in Yemen has raged on for four years now. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in 2015 in support of the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This alliance was led by the crown prince Mohamed bin Salman. Iran has been backing the Houthi rebels.
Another addition to the Saudi-led alliance got into the mix, with Sudan joining in too, and sending thousands of ground troops to fight the war in Yemen. Children made up 20-40% of the units in Yemen, as revealed by five Sudanese fighters who spoke to the New York Times.
With desperation kicking in hard, some of the families in Sudan send off their children to Yemeni war. Most of the children caught up in this are aged 14-17. Some parents are eager for money to an extend that they bribe officers of the Sudanese units so that their sons can fight on the Saudi frontlines in Yemen.
"Families know that the only way their lives will change is if their sons join the war and bring them back money," Hager Shomo Ahmed, who was recruited to fight in Yemen in 2016 when he was just 14, told the NYT. Around 14,000 Sudanese people have fought in the Gulf country alongside Yemeni armed groups backed by Saudi Arabia.
The impoverished region of Darfur is the hub where most of the Sudanese fighters come from. War and conflict are grimly synonymous with Darfur, where some 300,000 people were killed after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum in 2003.
The Saudi and Emirati commanders overseeing Sudanese units really never fought with them, as they ordered them "almost exclusively by remote control" so that "they could keep a safe distance from the battle lines."
"They never fought with us," Mohamed Suleiman al-Fadil said. A 25-year-old fighter, identified as Ahmed, told the newspaper, "They treat the Sudanese like their firewood."
A lot of Sudanese lives are lost in Yemen. A real lot. But the Saudis deny all of this. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led alliance said that the allegations were "fictitious and unfounded."
Babikir Elsiddig Elamin, a spokesman for Sudan's Foreign Ministry, refused to give a lot of comments when contacted by the NYT, and only said that Sudan was fighting "in the interest of regional peace and stability".
The war in Yemen has been one of the worst in history, and has triggered a massive and the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The country is at the verge of a famine.
The war in Yemen has killed more than 60,000 people, according to the war monitor Armed Conflict Location and Event Data.
Header image credit: Al Jazeera
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