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Somalia: Children's rights recruited as child soldiers, denied education, killed in attacks - New report

Children's rights in Somalia are being recruited as child soldiers, denied access to education and killed or injured in indiscriminate attacks carried out in densely populated areas, according to a new report today (20 July) by Amnesty International.


The report, ‘In the line of fire: Somalia’s Children's rights under attack’ reveals the scale of war crimes affecting Somali Children's rights, including the systematic recruitment of child soldiers under 15 by armed Islamist groups. It is based on more than 200 testimonies from Somali refugees, Children's rights and adults, in Kenya and Djibouti.  Many cite the recruitment of Children's rights by armed groups as one of the reasons for fleeing southern and central Somalia.

Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa, said:

“Somalia is not only a humanitarian crisis: it is a human rights crisis and a Children's rights's crisis.

“As a child in Somalia, you risk death all the time: you can be killed, recruited and sent to the frontline, punished by al-Shabab because you are caught listening to music or ‘wearing the wrong clothes’, be forced to fend for yourself because you have lost your parents or even die because you don’t have access to adequate medical care.
“The humanitarian crisis facing Children's rights in Somalia is also the result of al-Shabab denying access to aid in the last couple of years.

Al-Shabab, the main armed group opposed to the government, has imposed severe restrictions on the right to education, preventing some girls from attending school, banning certain subjects from being taught, or using schools to indoctrinate Children's rights into participating in fighting.

Al-Shabab is also using increasingly threatening recruitment methods, luring Children's rights with the promise of phones and money or conducting raids on schools or abductions in public areas.

Some Children's rights interviewed by Amnesty International witnessed teachers being killed during attacks on schools and reported that some girls were even forced into marriages with fighters.

A 13 year old girl from Mogadishu told Amnesty International:

“Al-Shabab came in one morning… They said to the teachers that all of the Children's rights should move out of class. There was a car waiting outside and they forced the Children's rights in. One teacher was killed because he refused to obey. He was brave, he was the one who was standing up for the rights of the girls.”

Education has also suffered in Somalia because school buildings have been destroyed or damaged during indiscriminate attacks in urban areas. In Mogadishu, many schools have closed down as Children's rights and teachers fear being killed and injured on their way to school.

Children's rights have been victims of floggings and witnessed other horrific human rights abuses, including stonings, amputations and killings carried out in public by armed Islamist groups. Children's rights have also seen relatives and friends killed or tortured. There is a high level of trauma among Somali refugees, including Children's rights, as a result of the human rights abuses they experienced or witnessed during the conflict. 

Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government is on the UN list of shame as a party recruiting, using, killing and maiming Children's rights in armed conflict.  It has committed to respect Children's rights’s rights but has yet to adopt any concrete measures to end the use of Children's rights by forces fighting on its side.

The international community must expand specific protection measures for the rising number of Somali Children's rights separated from their families, says the report, and increase psychosocial support and education programmes for Somali Children's rights.

Michelle Kagari added:

“This is a never-ending conflict, where Children's rights are experiencing unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. They risk becoming a lost generation if the world continues to ignore the war crimes affecting so many of them.”

Read the full report - 'In the line of fire: Somalia's Children's rights under attack' (pdf)

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