UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Calls for Full Implementation of Action Plans by Federal Government of Somalia

Concluding her four-day visit to Somalia and two days in Nairobi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, called for the full implementation of the two Action Plans signed by Somali Government in 2012 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as the killing and maiming of children.

Somalia is one of the seven countries involved in the Campaign “Children Not Soldiers”, launched by the SRSG and UNICEF in March 2014 to end the recruitment and use of children by government forces by 2016.

During her visit in Somalia, Ms. Zerrougui met with the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Prime Minister, Ministers of Defense, National Security, Justice, Women Affairs and Human Rights as well as other key actors in Mogadishu. She also met with AMISOM leadership, UNSOM and the UN Country Team. She visited a UNICEF project to reintegrate vulnerable children and children formerly associated with armed forces and groups back into society, as well as the Serendi rehabilitation center. She also undertook a field visit to Kismayo where she engaged with the leaders from the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) and members of the civil society. In Nairobi, she met with the Somalia Country Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict as well as the diplomatic and donor community.

“Somalia faces many challenges but making its army child free is possible and I am encouraged that the Somali Federal Government has committed to it,” said Ms. Zerrougui.

“All the necessary measures enclosed in the action plans should be put in place and implemented”, added Ms. Zerrougui. Crucial to that process is the need to have the legal framework in which progress will happen. In this respect, the President and the members of the Federal Government have committed to expedite the ratification of the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its additional protocols in this symbolic year of the 25th anniversary of the CRC.

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During her visit to a UNICEF-supported reintegration center, Ms. Zerrougui saw that tremendous ground work done by the UN and its partners can help children reclaim their lives after months or years in armed forces and armed groups. “Meaningful reintegration must be a priority and appropriate resources must be invested in these programs that are essential to build a stronger, more peaceful Somalia, governed by the rule of law,” said SRSG Zerrougui. “And it is important for the UN and all partners to be creative where it is needed to overcome the specific challenges found in the Somalia context”, she further added.

Ms. Zerrougui also visited the Serendi rehabilitation center in Mogadishu where she found approximately 300 adults and 55 children who have been directed to the center by the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA). According to the Federal Government, the purpose of this center is to rehabilitate adults and children formerly associated with armed groups before reintegrating them into the society. However, Ms. Zerrougui is concerned that the process and criteria under which children end up in this center are not transparent and the decision that deprives them from their liberty for months and sometimes years cannot be challenged. Ms. Zerrougui shared her concerns about the Serendi center with the Federal Government and all her interlocutors.

Ms. Zerrougui called upon the Somali Federal Government to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of grave violations committed against children.

Ms. Zerrougui said that she returns with a positive impression of Somalia because of encouraging developments, a vibrant civil society and the commitment from the Somali Federal Government to move forward. SRSG Zerrougui reiterated the UN’s commitment to continue its support to Somalia and to the children of Somalia.

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Note to editors:
Somalia is one of the seven countries involved in the Campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” which aims to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government  security forces listed by the Secretary-General in his annual report on children and armed conflict, by 2016.

For more information please contact:

Stephanie Tremblay, Communications officer,
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict,
Tel: +1 212 963-8285
Mobile: +1 917 288-5791
tremblay@un.org
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