Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep concern over the continuing grave violations of children’s rights in Somalia and urged all armed groups in the Horn of Africa country to immediately cease recruiting children and release those in their ranks.
“I am deeply concerned about the killing and maiming of children and other civilians in the course of military operations [and] I remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations to ensure respect for international law,” the Secretary-General writes in his latest report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict in Somalia.
He calls on the armed groups – al-Shabaab, Hizbul Islam, clan militias and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a – to “make all efforts to protect children through strict adherence to the principles of distinction and proportionality in the conduct of hostilities.”
The Secretary-General also strongly encourages Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and other authorities in the country to redress the prevailing culture of impunity, investigate all incidents of grave violations of children’s rights, and ensure that all individuals responsible are held accountable.
“All appropriate authorities are also encouraged to increase child protection, law enforcement and judicial capacities,” Mr. Ban writes.
He strongly encourages the African Union (AU) to include in the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, specific provisions for the protection of children and civilians.
“This includes child protection advisers and mechanisms for the monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children,” he says, urging the AU to ensure that AMISOM troops adhere to their rules of engagement, and impose disciplinary measures for violations.
The Secretary-General also urges the Kenyan Government to investigate reports of recruitment of Somali children from refugee camps in Kenya, and to implement necessary safeguards to ensure increased security and protection of the civilian populations in and around refugee camps.
In addition, he encourages the international community to provide “adequate and timely resources to Somalia for child protection,” adding that emphasis should be on strengthening local capacity in monitoring, reporting, advocacy, prevention activities and response to child rights violations within the country and in areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) have settled.
Somalia has been without a functioning national government and wracked by factional warfare since the 1991 when the administration of the late Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled.