Somalia, a country located on the Horn of Africa, has an ongoing issue with child recruitment by terrorist groups, mostly Al-Shabaab. Children as young as 8 years old are often being sent to the frontline for combat and are taught to transport explosives, work as spies and handle weapons. In the article below the top 10 facts about child soldiers in Somalia are listed.
Top 10 Facts About Somalia Child Soldiers
- According to a report issued to the United Nations, 6,163 Somalia children were recruited as soldiers during the period of April 1, 2010, to July 31, 2016. Out of this number, 5,993 were boys and 230 were girls. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization that is in alliance with Al-Qaeda, accounted for 70 percent of the recruited children.
- The Secretary-General of U.N. is alarmed by the increasing number of violations against the young children, including the uprise of recruitment, the attacks made on schools, the act of sexual violation and cases of abduction. For instance, 64 school attacks were reported, out of which 58 are linked with Al-Shabaab.
- The U.N. chief reported that some of the children have been targeted with the promise of pursuing an education and job. Generally, the children are promised a better future in exchange for their services.
- Boys are captured on the battlefield by intelligence agencies. Most boys are then arrested and beaten during security operations held by the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in the capital of Mogadishu. This leaves children caught in between explosions and government detention.
- Interrogations are used against the kids and result in torture and the disconnection with the relatives. In one case, a 16-year-old boy told Human Right’s Watch (HRW) that he was abused by NISA in 2016. He stated that he was taken out of his cell at night and forced to confess. He was bleeding for two weeks, but no one helped him.
- The federal government in Somalia promised to send captured children to The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for rehabilitation. However, only 250 children were released since 2015.
- U.S. troops aided Somalia’s security during a raid that took place in January 2018. According to a statement made by a U.S. military official to CNN, the troops rescued 30 child soldiers.
- There are 500 U.S. troops currently located in Somalia working as military advisers and conventional logistic personnel. U.S. Navy SEALs are deployed to Somalia to serve as advisors to their security forces.
- Recently, the U.S. suspended some aid to Somali troops due to worries about corruption. However, Somali units that are advised by American military personnel are still receiving aid.
- Since January 2015, multiple pieces of training of personnel from African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission, and Somali National Army (SNA) on countering the use of child soldiers have taken place. With the support of the British Peace Support Training, these developments help protect the children in Somalia.
Several of these top 10 facts about Somalia child soldiers presented above showcase the work of organizations like AMISOM where the focus is on combating the number of cases of child recruitment.
In order for child recruitment to be fully eradicated in the country, nongovernmental organization, government and foreign agencies must work together. This groundbreaking work will not only help protect the children in Somalia but may also bring hope to end all conflict between the Somali and African forces.
– Kathleen Smith