The top Somali leaders commit to end child soldiers
The Special Representative of the Secretary- General of United Nations Radhika Coomaraswamy secured from top officials of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) a process to end the use of children or their recruitment in the country’s armed forces.
Ms. Coomaraswamy met the President and the Prime Minister during her visit in the capital Mogadishu, where she spoke with children who had escaped from tAl-shabaab insurgents.
“Completion of an action plan will ensure that the TFG is child-free,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy. It would also “allow the United Nations to remove the Government from the ‘list of shame’ of parties that commit grave violations against children.”
During the meeting with Ms. Coomaraswamy, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Defense Minister Hussein Arab Essa have signed a Security Council-mandated plan to end the use of children in their nation’s forces.
The envoy visited a camp in Mogadishu; where Al-shabaab defectors are being held. Among these defectors were 37 former child soldiers. One of them was a 16-year-old boy, who defected after being trained as a suicide bomber and he was wounded in a battle.
Ismail’s case (not real name) “highlights the fact that children associated with Al Shabaab are victims,” she said. “They must be transferred rapidly to civilian child protection actors, and be separated as soon as possible from adult Al Shabaab ex-combatants in order to begin the transition back to civilian life.”
Ms. Coomaraswamy requested all UN partners to work with the TFG, AMISOM, and donors to prevent the recruitment of children.
“With Mogadishu more secure following the withdrawal of Al Shabaab, the onus is on the international community to assist the Government’s efforts towards stability,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy.
TheTFG and Al Shabaab are listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict as recruiters and users of child soldiers
Tags: Child Soldiers-Al-shabaab
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