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UN Report: Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab in Somalia put Child soldiers on the frontline in War

In the past, about 2,000 to 3,000 children, at times as young as 9, were enlisted in the Somali armed forces, says UNICEF

  • Al Shabaab has been luring child soldiers to fight for them against the Somali Government
  • About 5000-6000 children soldiers are fighting war in Somalia everyday 
  • 16th June is celebrated as International Day of Child in Africa

Al Shabaab, an affiliate of Al Qaeda operating mainly in southern and central Somalia has been recklessly putting child soldiers on the front line of the war against internationally recognized Somali Federal Government. The militant group lures this young boys to fight for them through brainwashing and sometimes offering food, sweets, money and shelter. Children in shelter/displaced persons’ camp often prove to be easy targets.

somalia
al Shabaab military parade. Image courtesy: criticalthreats.org

Officials from the United Nations’ Children Fund have said there could be around as many as 5000-6000 child soldiers battling scarring wars everyday on the battlefield. This number seems to have suddenly shot up. UNICEF had reported in the past that 2000 young boys had been persuaded to fight for Somali Armed Forces.

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Thursday, June 16, is observed as the International Day of The African Child all over Africa to continue the issue of children’s rights in the continent. This day serves as a reminder to all the African governments to respect children’s right and the fact that there is still a long way to go to establish safe environment where these children can enjoy the same rights that every other child in the world does. This year, Day of the African Child was celebrated under the theme, “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”. Focus on provision of education to all African children is always a key focus area on this day.

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Somalia signed the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), making Somalia the 195th state to ratify the convention.

Even in the wake of signing this convention, child abductions have been pitifully on the rise in the country. The Human Rights Watch reports that child soldiers are often used as human shields in battles.

The ratification means that Somali children now have legally binding rights with the CRC, providing the framework for the government to promote and protect those rights.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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