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Houthis Lead Coercive Recruitment Campaign against African Refugees

Houthis Lead Coercive Recruitment Campaign against African Refugees

Friday, 24 May, 2019 - 09:30
Houthi security forces in Sanaa, EPA
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat
Grappling with grave losses that struck its fighter ranks recently, Houthi militias revamped their foreign recruitment program, employing coercion as a tactic to get African mercenaries and youth to fight on their side.

Houthis, in the last two weeks, have been running an extensive recruitment campaign, local sources in Sanaa, a stronghold for the group, told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying African youth were forcibly drafted into training camps after militia commanders failed to gain the support of nearby tribes.

Sources unveiled that Houthis have been saturating their ranks with hired African mercenaries, fighting for a paid rate ranging from $80 to $100.

Houthi supervisors specialized in recruitment operations and who are popular among African refugees, according to same sources, have been assigned with militarizing refugees and the sorting and categorizing of new recruits according to previous combat experiences.

Most of the newly enrolled Houthi militias are being deployed to front lines.

Recruitment campaigns targeted Africans of different age groups who had sought refuge in a number of neighborhoods in Sana and Houthi-run territory.

A majority of the new recruits are Ethiopian and Somali nationals, sources noted.

After conscription, mercenaries are vetted by Iran-sponsored commanders who also conduct combat training courses in undisclosed boot camps. The most recent wave of foreign militia recruitment saw the conscription of 76 new fighters.

Apart from being trained in armed combat, trainees also undergo a fierce sectarian indoctrination program.

Families of Houthi-hired African fighters complain that they are being pressured by hard living conditions under Houthi rule in Sanaa. In addition to the starvation-level suffering they face, they are being pressured into accepting their relatives, mostly the family’s breadwinner, picking up arms.

A Sanaa-based official, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, confirmed that members of the African community in Houthi-run areas are the victims of racial slurs, oppression and human rights violations, especially when they refuse to heed Houthi demands.

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