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Somalia: Prime Minister Plans to End Child Soldiering

(Nov. 10, 2010) On November 2, 2010, Somalia's Prime Minister, Mohammed Abdullah I Mohammed, met in Somalia's capital city of Mogadishu with the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy. At that meeting, Mohammed stated that his government is determined to end the practice of children serving as soldiers in the country. Child soldiering has been endemic in Somalia, which has seen protracted internal conflict. The plan was supported two days later by a statement from Coomaraswamy's office, which included Mohammed's view that the use of children in conflict was a terrible practice. The United Nations has included Mohammed's Transitional Federal Government and allied militia groups in its list of organizations using children in warfare in the past. (New Somali PM Vows to Eradicate Child Soldiering, PANA ONLINE (Nov. 5, 2010), World News Connection online subscription database, Doc. No. 201011051477.1_e343007985cedf16.)

The Prime Minister's plan includes designating a focal point, an office in his government that would report directly to him and work with the United Nations. That office will develop an action program for the release of child soldiers from their militias.

Coomaraswamy noted that the non-government parties in the recent conflicts in Somalia have also recruited and used child soldiers. She said that her office had no access to these other groups, including Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, but that the United Nations hopes that “they will abide by international humanitarian law and release all children within their ranks. We also urge states who have influence over all parties in the region to use their good offices to ensure that all parties in Somalia protect the rights of girls and boys.” She went on to say that in Somalia children “are still on the many front lines as they have been for 20 years and it's only getting worse. Increasingly, it is children who are fighting the war. The actors may change, battlefields may shift, but it is always the children who suffer.” (Id.)