Communities in Baidoa discuss mechanisms against recruiting child soldiers

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Mogadishu, 20 November—A workshop to raise awareness on the dangers of recruiting child soldiers by armed groups in Somalia has concluded in Baidoa, South West State, with participants coming from civil society groups, including women and youth organizations, and their line ministries.

Organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the workshop discussed rights of children, forms of child recruitment and the vulnerabilities of children and community protection mechanisms, among others.

Gloria Jase, AMISOM Protection Officer, stated that AMISOM has carried out programs that will help address the problem of recruitment of children into armed groups, against both national and international laws.

“The purpose of the training was to ensure that we strengthen community protection mechanisms on preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers because most of these children are taken from the community, they are recruited from the communities, so we want the communities to be aware and to take an active role in preventing children from being taken from their hands,” Gloria said.

Director General in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs of Southwest State Mohamed Abdullahi Abdirahman hailed AMISOM for organizing such an important forum for the community, and requested for more such trainings in the future.

“This is the first time we are participating in a workshop of this kind where the community is given an awareness on how to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups who normally target and brainwash young children to use them for acts of terror that hurt the community,” Abdirahman said.

Engaging Locals

AMISOM Human Rights Officer, Ulrike Kahbila Mbuton reiterated AMISOM’s resolve in tackling the recruitment and use of child soldiers by engaging the locals to join in the fight against the recruitment of child soldiers.

“This is a very critical issue which we seek to engage the communities for them to understand the various frameworks that are in place for the protection of children, and also engage them on the role that they play in ensuring that children are prevented from any form of recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups in Somalia” said Kahbila.

The Somali civil society members welcomed the AMISOM initiative and hoped to make use of the knowledge they gained in curbing child soldier recruitment.

“I am pleased to take part in this training and I will utilize the skills I gained from this workshop to sensitize the community towards the prevention of recruitment and use of children. I would like to request AMISOM to conduct similar forums in the community, especially to the IDPs so as to help a generation of young children who can grow up to lead the country one day,” Rukia Sheikh Abdullahi from Bay Development Network said.