SOMALIA:Government to probe New York Times report on Child soldiers

Published: June 16, 2010

Mohamed Adan Ugas, left, a 12-year-old, work for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia | Photo: New York Times

In a statement released today, the Somali President, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, has expressed strong concern over the recent New York Times report that alleged the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has recruited child soldiers for its national army.
The President stated that, contrary to the New York Times assertions, the Somali government has not and will not knowingly recruit under-aged youth for the national security forces, because, the President said, “the country is already teeming with thousands of able-bodied men that the government is working hard to demobilize”
Furthermore, President Ahmed reiterated that the Somali Government “is fully committed to upholding existing laws and provisions banning the recruitment of child soldiers.” President Sheikh Sharif says his government will investigate the issue.
“…a charge of such magnitude warrants a thorough scrutiny, the President ordered the army chief “to conduct a full review and to report back to him in four weeks.  The President also instructed the army to demobilize any under-age recruits without delay…”
The President appealed to the international community to assist the Somali government with the direly needed resources to provide services that could help in the demobilization process of the estimated over one hundred thousand armed militias of all ages that are roaming in the country.
“…Al Shabab terrorists are the ones who intentionally and many times forcefully enlist underage children for their terror campaigns. It is documented the TFG has actually rescued children from Al-Shabaab and returned them to their families. ” says the statement by Sharif’s office.
According to Somali human rights groups and United Nations officials, the Somali government, which relies on assistance from the West to survive, is fielding hundreds of children or more on the front lines, some as young as 9.
United Nations officials say they have offered the Somali government specific plans to demobilize the children. But Somalia’s leaders, struggling for years to withstand the insurgents’ advances, have been paralyzed by bitter infighting and are so far unresponsive, says the New York Times report.
© 2010 Horseed Media

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