Nairobi AMISOM News
– The African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM) and the Somali National Army (SNA) are putting in place
measures to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers in
armed conflict, due to increasing cases that are becoming a
security challenge in the horn of Africa country.
conjunction with the British Peace Support Team- East Africa (BPST-EA)
and the Dallaire Initiative (DI), AMISOM is conducting a ten-day
Training of Trainers (TOT) course for members of the Federal
Government of Somalia (FGS) and selected AMISOM officials, to
equip them with requisite skills to become rescuers of child
soldiers in Somalia.
"We support and underscore our belief that the security
sector actors have a particularly important role to play in
protection of children because they are frequently the first
point of contact not only with child soldiers but with all
children in the operation areas," said Darin Reeves, the
Training Director at Dallaire Initiative.
The AU deputy Special Representative for Somalia Hon. Lydia
Wanyoto recommended going beyond international instruments of
law, to save Somalia’s children from armed conflict.
"It’s not just about Somali children. It’s about humanity.
"It’s about an African child given a chance to grow up as a
child to fulfil their rightful potential in life," she said in
her remarks, during the official opening of the Training of
Trainers course, in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, on Monday.
According to Musa Gbow, AMISOM’s Child Protection Advisor,
participants will be equipped with skills to train their
colleagues back in Somalia, on how to prevent the recruitment
and use of child soldiers.
Col. Richard Leakey, the Commandant at British Peace Support
Team -East Africa (BPST -EA), noted that AMISOM had a critical
role in preventing future recruitment of child soldiers.
"For representing your country in AMISOM, you also have a
personal opportunity to make a difference to individuals and
communities in areas in which you serve," Col. Leakey stated.
"In the field, you will become key advocates to promote
"The reason for these are two fold, not only do you bear a
heavy, moral responsibility to protect the innocent as AU
peacekeepers, but also by breaking the cycle of conflict that
continues due to recruitment and use of child soldiers, you will
directly contribute to mission’s success," he told the
participants at the training workshop.
Globally, various international instruments criminalize the
recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
According to the United Nations Security Council Report on
Children and Armed Conflict in Somalia, which was published in
January 2017, a total of 5933 boys and 230 girls were recruited
as child soldiers between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2016.
Statistics show an improvement between 2012 and 2014, but the
figures sharply rise in 2016, where 1092 children were used as
child soldiers, in the first half of 2016.
Available statistics also show that 70-percent of the
children in armed conflict in Somalia are recruited by Al-Shabaab.
"Al-Shabaab used child soldiers to reinforce and replenish
their ranks following successful AMISOM and SNA operations
against them," Col. Leakey explains.
He said children as young as 9 years of age, are taught how
to use weapons and sent to the frontline to use explosives,
carry ammunition and to perform domestic chores.
"This means two things for you," Col. Leakey cautions.
"Firstly, by preventing child soldiers, you will help drain
the recruitment pool for Al- Shabaab," he says.
"And secondly, you are likely to encounter child soldiers at
some point during your deployment and you’ll need to know how to
handle them humanely and with dignity, respect and