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Nairobi/Brussels, 17 September 2015: UNICEF and the EU work to end Somali child recruitment

NAIROBI/BRUSSELS, 17 September 2015 – UNICEF Somalia has made important progress in its work to protect children from being recruited into armed groups – and to help those already affected – thanks to funding of US$1 million from the European Union.

During a 15 month project which began in June 2014, 401 children and young people who had been associated with armed groups, as well as other children at risk, were provided with reintegration support including vocational and educational opportunities, psycho-social care and support and recreation. The young people, a quarter of whom were girls, were enrolled into vocational training programmes on skills such as electrical engineering, office administration, car mechanics, carpentry and plumbing. At the same time 110 boys and girls were enrolled in formal school.

It is estimated that up to 5000 children and youth could currently be with armed groups in Somalia which has seen more than two decades of conflict. The boys and girls serve as combatants but also as cooks, porters or in other roles.

“The use of Somali children in conflict is unacceptable both internationally and even locally in accordance with norms and beliefs in Somalia,” said Michele Cervone d'Urso, European Union Special Envoy and Ambassador to Somalia. “We are committed to working with those who have suffered the trauma of taking part in hostilities and at the same time supporting the Government to translate its commitments into concrete action for the benefit of these child soldiers forced into war in order to offer them hope and a bright future ahead.”

To address the plight of children, as outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, in 2012 the Somali Government signed Action Plans to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. The project – Support to the Implementation of the two Action Plans on ending child recruitment/use and killing and maiming in Somalia - provided support including technical expertise to help the Government implement the Action Plans. UNICEF also enhanced the capacity of NGOs, civil society, communities and monitors in their roles in prevention and reporting on grave child violations including killing or maiming, recruiting or using child soldiers, attacks against schools or hospitals, rape or other grave sexual violence, abduction of children and denial of humanitarian access.

“The use of children in conflict violates the most fundamental rights of children,” said Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Representative to Somalia. “These children are the future of Somalia. We have made important progress in ensuring children are not recruited or used by armed groups, and that those who have been traumatized are given help -but our work will continue until all children are protected from this terrible threat.”

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has several offices across the country, including Mogadishu, Baidoa, Galkayo, Garowe and Hargeisa. Together with over 100 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, as well as responds to emergencies and supports peacebuilding and development.

About the European Union
The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 democratic European countries founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and human rights. Over more than fifty years we have created a zone of peace, democracy, stability and prosperity on our continent while maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The EU looks to share its values and achievements with neighboring countries and peoples and those farther afield. The EU has a network of 140 Delegations across the world. The European Union promotes and protects children rights and does so through a range of different modalities and instruments. Children’s welfare is at the core of the European Union Strategy for Human Rights, trade negotiations, development cooperation and humanitarian aid as well as EU political dialogue with partner countries. For more information about the EU and its work on human rights. Follow the EU on Twitter @SomaliaEU & @EU_in_somalia & on Facebook

Please visit UNICEF-EU web portal:

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF Somalia: Susannah Price, +254 722 719867;

UNICEF Brussels: Rebekka Opfermann, +32 2 513 2251;

Delegation of the European Union to Somalia: Timothy Baines, +254 (0)20 280 2106



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