UN concerned over recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia

16:28, May 05, 2010      

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The UN children's fund, UNICEF has expressed concerns over the recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia.

In a joint statement received here on Wednesday, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake and Secretary-General's Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said the use of children by armed forces and groups is a war crime which must be stopped immediately.

"We are appalled to learn that the recruitment and use of children as soldiers by armed groups in Somalia is rising. All parties to the conflict are involved, and in some cases children as young as nine years old are being recruited," they said in a joint statement.

"All parties must release the children within their ranks. Impunity must end and perpetrators brought to justice."

According to the two, recent reports state that schools are being used as recruitment centers and that child soldiers are often beaten or executed when captured.

They said children who have been recruited are victims and must be treated accordingly.

UNICEF and the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict said they stand ready to assist in the demobilization of Somali children and help them recover their childhoods and reintegrate into their communities.

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