SRSG Keating deplores use of child soldiers by al-Shabaab
PRESS STATEMENT 09/2016
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia Michael Keating has strongly 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.
At least 16 minors, most of them boys, have appeared in news media accounts about al-Shabaab fighters who were taken prisoner, and the number of child soldiers in the custody of Puntland authorities may be higher. They 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 United Nations 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 law. 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.
“The blatant deployment of children by al-Shabaab extremists is an outrage that warrants special condemnation,” said SRSG Keating. “These children need support, and it is imperative that all feasible steps be taken to rehabilitate them and eventually reunite them with their families.”