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Rights group condemns use of child soldier by pro-Egypt army tribal groups

A Yemeni boy poses with a Kalashnikov assault rifle during a gathering of newly-recruited Houthi fighters in the capital Sanaa, to mobilise more fighters to battlefronts in the war against pro-government forces in several Yemeni cities, on July 16, 2017 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images]
A young boy poses with a Kalashnikov assault rifle on 16 July, 2017 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images]

Children are being recruited to fight as part of pro-government tribal armies in Egypt's Sinai sparking criticism from human rights groups.

Pictures circulating on social media show children carrying various weapons during their participation in the military operations that are ongoing in the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

This confirms the direct and daily field cooperation of the Tribes Union with the Egyptian army, the site said.

The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights said that the "phenomenon of recruiting children or using them in military actions within tribal groups loyal to the Egyptian army, as part of its war against the Islamic State – Sinai Province in the northern Sinai Peninsula, became steadily noticeable during the first half of 2022."

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This recruitment, it added, "is taking place under the supervision of the Egyptian authorities, in flagrant violation of all international laws and covenants that stress the protection of children's rights, especially during armed conflicts."

The foundation said that "many children were killed or injured as a result of attacks by the Sinai Province organisation during the storming of the villages of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, but this did not prevent their continued participation until now, but rather the return of some of them to military activity after surviving injuries earlier."

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