Mogadishu, 22 March 2018 - A total of thirty personnel from the Somali security forces, drawn from across the country, concluded a three-day capacity building workshop on child protection, in the capital Mogadishu, on Thursday.
The training organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and supported by the British Embassy in Somalia, sensitized the local security forces on the perils of engaging children in armed conflict and ways of preventing their recruitment and use in armed conflict.
“This training is important because you have been equipped with the skills that will enable you execute a very important function of protecting the children in this very noble republic of Somalia,” Mr. Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Head of AMISOM, told participants at the workshop.
Flanked by the Director General of the Federal Ministry of Defence Mr. Sonkor Jama Geyre, the Secretary of the Parliamentary Defense Committee Sidiq Warfa, and British Embassy officials, Mr. Mulongo emphasized the importance of creating a safe and secure environment for children, whom he stressed, were the next generation of leaders. “Therefore, the question of protecting children and ensuring that they grow in a safe, secure and productive environment becomes our noble responsibility both as parents and as leaders of our communities,” he said, noting that “no country can have hope in the future unless the children are properly nourished and brought up.”
The trainees will be tasked to carry out child protection sensitization programmes in their areas of operations.
The training provided participants with a platform to engage with their trainers and discourse on the impact of armed conflict on children in war, the roles and responsibilities of the Somali Security Sector in curtailing the menace.
A participant, Fatuma Mohamed Abdikadir, said she would use the knowledge she had acquired from the workshop to sensitize her peers in the security sector.
“Armed militia usually use children as soldiers, especially girls who are mostly used as spies or for other purposes. They are made to wear civilian clothes, infiltrate and gather information,” said Fatuma.
Another participant, Mohamed Ali Galabey, said the training helped him understand better the negative impact of using children in armed conflict.
“I will spread the word far and wide to create awareness on the dangers of using children as soldiers once I return to my sector so that the abuse and violation of the rights of the children are minimized or stopped completely,” he stated.
There is little research on the actual numbers of child soldiers in Somalia, although there is widespread use of children in armed conflict by militia gangs and terror group Al-Shabaab. AMISOM has been collaborating with the Federal Government of Somalia and the Somali security forces, to end the use of children in armed conflict.