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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

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Use of child soldiers is harshly looked down upon. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • 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.

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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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  • AJ Krish

    Luring children to fight a war in which they are dragged into.Manipulating them and using them as human shields .Have people lost their humanity?

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Piano Lessons Make Children Smarter, Claims New Study

However it did not appear to confer any benefit for overall cognitive ability, as measured by IQ, attention span, and working memory, the researchers said

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Piano lessons make children smarter, claims new study
Piano lessons make children smarter, claims new study. Pixabay

If your kid is slow in language skills, then sending him or her for piano lessons can improve word discrimination as well as language proficiency, says a study.

The findings suggested that piano lessons may have specific effect on the children’s ability to distinguish different pitches, which helped them to better distinguish different words.

However it did not appear to confer any benefit for overall cognitive ability, as measured by IQ, attention span, and working memory, the researchers said.

“The children didn’t differ in the more broad cognitive measures, but they did show some improvements in word discrimination, particularly for consonants. The piano group showed the best improvement there,” said Robert Desimone from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Representational image. Pixabay

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, included data from nearly 100 children aged four or five years, who were divided into three groups — one that received 45-minute piano lessons three times a week; one that received extra reading instruction for the same period of time; and one that received neither intervention.

After six months, the researchers tested the children on their ability to discriminate words based on differences in vowels, consonants, or tone.

The results showed that, children who had piano lessons showed a significant advantage over children in the extra reading group in discriminating between words that differ by one consonant.

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Children in both the piano group and extra reading group performed better than children who received neither intervention when it came to discriminating words based on vowel differences.

“That’s a big thing for kids in learning language: being able to hear the differences between words. They really did benefit from that,” Desimone added.

The researchers hope their findings could encourage other schools to keep or enhance their music offerings. (IANS)