UN envoy decries use of child soldiers by Somali militants

Michael Keating. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe



The UN top envoy for Somalia has decried the use of child soldiers by the Islamist Al-Shabaab militant in their attacks in the Horn of Africa nation.

In a statement received on Saturday, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia Michael Keating deplored the high number of children among the Al-Shabaab militants captured by Puntland security forces during the recent fighting in that part of Somalia.

Keating said the blatant deployment of children by Al-Shabaab extremists is an outrage that warrants special condemnation.

“These children need support, and it is imperative that all feasible steps be taken to rehabilitate them and eventually reunite them with their families,” Keating said.

The UN envoy said these children are among dozens of extremists who were captured in coastal areas of Puntland and have been subsequently moved to the state capital of Garowe.

The statement came as Somali militants have increased their attacks against Puntland forces in the past week.

However, the Puntland troops have caused major casualties on Al-Shabaab fighters, killing over 60 of them and arrested several others in the past week.

Keating said the UN has entered into constructive discussions with Puntland authorities about making the necessary arrangements for ensuring proper treatment of these children in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian laws.

“Positive actions taken in this regard will demonstrate the authorities’ commitment to the obligations assumed by Somalia when it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in January 2015,” he said.

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