Children in Somalia Recruited as Soldiers

Augustine Mahiga, UN Secretary- General’s Special Representative for Somalia has welcomed an agreement that will cease recruitment and the use of children within the national armed forces in Somalia.

The so-called “Action Plan”, which was signed in Rome Tuesday, outlines concrete steps to be taken by the government of Somalia to ensure children are not recruited into the Army, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here during the daily news briefing.

The Action Plan sets up commitments for the Somali government to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in its national armed forces; reintegrate all children released from the armed forces with the support from the UN; criminalize the recruitment and use of children; and provide the UN with unrestricted access to military installations to verify the presence of children.

“Mr. Mahiga, who signed the plan on behalf of the United Nations, said it is critical for the professionalisation of the security forces and will contribute positively to efforts to stabilize Somalia,” said Nesirky.

At the same time, the Somali Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Arab Isse said in a press release that the “children of Somalia have witnessed so many horrors in this decades-old conflict, and have grown up in war — the government firmly believes that today’s children and future generations must spend their childhood in schools, not barracks.”

Further support for the Action Plan came from Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, who was cited as saying that she was “encouraged to hear that the government [of Somalia] has committed to sign a similar agreement to end the killing and maiming of children.”

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