AMISOM calls for end to child soldiering in Africa
London, Oct. 22, 2017 (AltAfrika) – The African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) called for an end to the use of minors in armed conflict in the Horn of Africa nation.
The Head of Protection, Human Rights and Gender Cluster at AMISOM, Kareem Adebayo, in a statement issued on Sunday also called for the protection of all Somali children to prevent them from getting involved in armed conflict.
“The training that we have just concluded is therefore a pertinent training because in the context of asymmetrical warfare where you have non-state actors who are actively causing havoc where they are; whether in Somalia with Al-Shabaab, whether in Nigeria with Boko Haram or whether in Syria with ISIL – these people use children, they brainwash the children to achieve their dastardly acts,” he said.
He said the training was critical as every child born in Somalia was at risk of being recruited as a soldier.
Adebayo, who is also AMISOM Acting Chief of Staff, was speaking at the conclusion of a 12-day training that involved at least 23 participants drawn from the Somali National Security Forces (military, police and intelligence) and Somalia government officials.
The AMISOM-backed Training of Trainers (ToT), which was aimed at preventing the recruitment and use of children as child soldiers in Somalia, noted that the issue of child soldiers is an evil that needs to be eradicated.
Lt Col Ewen Turner, Representative of the British Peace Support Team in East Africa, said he was privileged to be part of the groundbreaking effort to rid Somalia of child soldiers.
“There is a chance now that a child born in Somalia since the conflict started has a chance to not become directly involved in the fighting,” Turner noted.
He said he looked forward to similar trainings “delivered by Somalis for Somalia and Somalia people.”
Adebayo said he expected the participants to transfer the skills learned at the workshop back home and help the country in tackling the issue of child soldiers at the war front.
“Every child born in that country (Somalia) is potentially a child soldier unless we have this kind of training. So, the training is to ensure that the Federal Government of Somalia, Somali National Army, Somali Police Force, the federal member states are all alive to their responsibilities that they don’t use children as child soldiers,” Adebayo added.
The acting chief of staff said the training is part of AMISOM’s exit strategy, aimed at leaving the country in the able hands of Somalis.