Somalia signs action plan to end use of child soldiers
Addis Ababa, July 4 (WIC) - Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government on Tuesday signed an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children in its national military forces.
The action plan was signed at a two day meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia in Rome on Monday and Tuesday this week.
The plan, which details concrete steps to be taken by the Government to ensure a child-free national army, was signed by the Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister, Hussein Arab Isse, and by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), Ambassador Mahiga on behalf of the UN.
The TFG has been on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children since 2007.
The plan calls for the Somali Government to end and prevent recruitment of children into the National Armed Forces, reintegration into society of all children released from the armed forces with UN support; legislation to criminalize recruitment of children; and unimpeded UN access to military installations for verification.
Ambassador Mahiga said the plan "will be critical for the professionalization of the security forces, and will contribute positively to the ongoing stabilization of Somalia”.
He called on the countries present at the ICG meeting to provide the necessary funding for the release and reintegration of children under military service.
The meeting also called for the Deputy Prime Minister another action plan focusing on protecting children from being killed or maimed later this month.
The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has stressed that “Somalia must now sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.”
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