NAIROBI – MORE than 6 000 children, some as young nine years old, have been recruited as soldiers in the conflict in Somalia.
It has been disclosed a total of 5 933 boys and 230 girls have been recruited mostly by the Al-Shabaab terror group between 2010 and 2016.
The crisis peaked last year with 1 092 children recruited in the first half alone.
Statistics show the Islamic militant Al-Shabaab was behind 70 percent of the illegal recruitment.
Children as young as young as nine years of age have been taught to handle and use dangerous weapons and sent to the frontline to attack government forces.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) said they were putting in place measures to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers in armed conflict, due to increasing cases that were becoming a security challenge in the horn of Africa country.
“It’s not just about Somali children. It’s about humanity,” said AU deputy special representative for Somalia, Lydia Wanyoto, said in Nairobi.
“It’s about an African child given a chance to grow up as a child to fulfil their rightful potential in life.”
Colonel Richard Leakey, Commandant at British Peace Support Team -East Africa, said Al-Shabaab used child soldiers to reinforce and replenish their ranks following successful AMISOM and SNA operations against them.
– CAJ News