Recruitment and deployment of children by armed factions in Somalia: a study of its effects on their well-being
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Recruitment and deployment of children by armed factions in South Central Somalia's conflict is not a new phenomenon, as confirmed in the subsequent annual reports of the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict to the Security Council and the General Assembly (SI2002/1299 November, 2002/3). The continued recruitment and deployment of children by armed factions risk long-term instability as generations of youth are sucked into ongoing wars (Kaplan, 2006: 42). The recruitment of children in South Central Somalia overtime has exposed the children to harsh and dangerous environment where they are raped, wounded or maimed, and in many cases killed. Even when they are not wounded or killed, their participation in armed conflicts prohibits their physical, psychological and social well-being, interferes with their rights to choose, and disrupts their going to school. Further it deprives them of parental love, protection and belonging to their communities. Every child has a right to life of free from violence. Use of children in armed conflict is a violation of human rights, and is defined by UNCRC, ILO Convention 182 as the worst form of child labour. The main objective of the study was to establish the characteristics of child soldiers, the procedures of recruitment and assignment to which the children are deployed by armed factions in Somalia, the reintegration of ex-child soldiers into the community and its effects on their physical, psychological and social well-being. The researcher chose Benadir district whose capital city is Mogadishu. The population of Mogadishu is estimated at 2,587,183. The researcher chose Mogadishu because it is the capital city and is densely populated and it also has many IDP camps. A total of five divisions were randomly sampled. The divisions are as follows: Deyninle, Wadjir (Medina). Abdi-Aziz, Waberi and Hamarjab-jab. A descriptive design was used because the research was based on a fact finding mission. The study obtained from both ex-child soldiers and present child soldiers aged 7 to 18 years as unit of observations in the research study. The study had total of 100 respondents with 73 being males and 27 Females. The study used snowball sampling method to sample 100 respondents. Out of the respondents, 75 were ex-child soldiers while the remaining 25 were child soldiers still deployed by different armed militia factions in Benadir district. The researcher used purposive sampling method to sample 24 key informants. Out of the 24 Key informants 11 of them were females while 13 were males. Their occupation comprises of: Teachers, Imams/sheikhs, caregivers, parents, monitors and child protection networks (CPNs). The key informants were all aged between 19 years to 65 years old The study utilized two instruments, a semi-structured questionnaire for respondents and a guide for key informants interview and focus group discussion. There were mainly two sources of data that were used in the study research; Primary and Secondary data. The quantitative data was analyzed using univariate analysis and was presented using a simple frequency distribution tables. Key findings of the study a) Most child soldiers recruited by armed factions came from the streets. IDPs camps, and single parenthood families showing lack of proper child friendly spaces b) Force and religious indoctrination was the commonest method employed by armed factions to recruit child soldiers c) Most child soldiers were assigned to frontline combat and manning of roadblocks d) Majority of the ex-child soldiers were greatly affected psychologically and socially e) Reintegration process of ex-child soldiers was in adequate showing lack functioning governmental institutions and inadequate child friendly spaces Recommendations a) Rethinking child protections and enhancing education Campaigns b) The government of Somalia to establish many rehabilitation centres and child friendly spaces c) Making policies more effective d) Strategies sensitive to an oral tradition to stop child recruitment e) Ratification of UNCRC and African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child and ILO Convention 182.


Manyala, EA
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