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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
  • 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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Researchers: Video Games can Help Children Evaluate, Express and Manage Emotions

Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides

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Video games, Children, Emotions
Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can't be solely understood by games. PIxabay

While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate, express and manage emotions when used as part of an emotional intelligence training programme.

“Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can’t be solely understood by games. Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides,” Manish Jain, Consultant at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

According to the study published in the Games for Health Journal, researchers from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Italy developed an emotional intelligence training programme that integrated video games as experience-based learning tools.

The researchers created EmotivaMente, a video game, to enhance emotional intelligence among adolescents, perhaps the group that could benefit the most. They analysed 121 adolescents who participated in eight sessions.

Video games, Children, Emotions
While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate. Pixabay

“Games for health have been designed to address an increasing variety of issues. A relatively new health issue is emotional intelligence, which has implications for various health problems, including coping with stress,” said Tom Baranowski, Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in the US.

The preliminary evaluation indicated that video games enhanced the students’ evaluation and expression of emotions.

But some experts believe outdoor activities should be given more importance to develop emotional intelligence, which includes awareness of emotions, managing emotions effectively and maintaining relationships, in children.

“In the modern day where interaction is increasingly becoming online and more time is spent indoors, the right way to build emotional intelligence is people-to-people interactions and connecting, spending quality time with peers and family, learning through experiences and feedback,” Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director at Fortis Mental Health Programme in Delhi, told IANS.

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“Video games are not the most prudent way to enhance emotional skills. Young people should have a well-balanced life with adequate outdoor activities and investment of time and energy in building relationships by working on communication and person-to-person connect,” Parikh said.

Sagar Lavania, Head of Department, Psychiatry and Mental Health, Nayati Medicity, Mathura, believes “human and one-on-one interactions are ideal ways to increase emotional intelligence, especially among adolescents, and can never be substituted by alternative methods”.

“However, if newer techniques are coming up, it needs to be thoroughly researched and supervised, keeping in mind the vulnerability of teenagers,” he remarked. (IANS)