The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has called on Somali communities to protect children and stop their recruitment of child soldiers.
Karim Adebayo, head of AMISOM human rights, protection and gender unit which officially closed a forum on the recruitment and use of children as fighters during armed conflict in Mogadishu, said recruitment and further use of children as fighters is a major concern for the AU mission.
“We must ensure children are rather educated instead of recruiting them as soldiers. The recruitment and use of children as fighters by terrorist groups is a concern to AMISOM, the government and communities,” he said in a statement issued in Mogadishu on Friday by AMISOM.
Gloria Jaase, AMISOM protection officer decried the harmful effects of war on children, including conflict-related sexual violence, killing, forced labor, and trauma.
“Children are vulnerable to abduction and recruitment. When society breaks down, there are no caregivers to look after children. Also, poverty and unemployment drive young people to join armed groups,” Jaase said.
The event was organized to promote collaboration with authorities, the community, civil society, and internally displaced people, to protect children.
Participants resolved to form child protection committees to ensure children are not recruited into the armed forces and armed groups.
A recent report by the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict revealed that armed groups in Somalia forcefully recruited and used 2,228 boys and 72 girls in 2018.
Recently, the Somali government is committed to implementing a national plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers by instituting measures to prevent violations against children, releasing child soldiers and reintegrating them into communities.
The ministry of defense said it has established a child protection unit and is training its forces to prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers.