Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and inclusive environment
Children in Somalia continue to bear the biggest brunt of the ongoing conflict. The conflict has displaced 2.6 million people across Somalia and separated numerous children from their families and friends. The longer a child is separated from her or his family, the more difficult it is to locate them and the more at risk a child is to violence, economic and sexual exploitation, abuse and potential trafficking.
In 2018, 2,300 Somali children, some as young as 8, were recruited into armed forces and groups – the highest number in the world. Many of these children were exposed to sexual and gender-based violence. Hundreds of others were maimed and killed.
Conflict has displaced 2.6 million people across Somalia and separated numerous children from their families and friends.
The ongoing conflict, poverty and lack of opportunities have driven many Somali children from their homes. They hope to find better lives elsewhere and set out to find work or an education. Far too often they face dangers during their travels. The children moving alone are particularly under threat. They are vulnerable to different forms of violence and exploitation as they embark on dangerous migration routes in search of alternative livelihoods.
The rate of female genital mutilation in Somalia is estimated at 98 percent.
The rate of female genital mutilation in Somalia is estimated at 98 percent. This harmful practice carries serious health consequences and it increases the likelihood of dying during childbirth. 34 percent of girls are married before their 18th birthday and 16 percent are married before the age of 15. Being married robs them of their childhoods and increases the likelihood of early pregnancy and school dropout.
Existing protection services are inadequate, especially in remote and in warring communities: there is widespread failure to promote and protect the rights of children.
UNICEF Somalia works with the Government of Somalia and partners to promote policies and expand access to services that protect all children.
We support the Government to put in place laws, policies, systems and public services that are inclusive of all children and help them thrive. We have invested in training professional social workers to ensure Somalia has a cadre of trained social workers to prevent and respond to sexual violence and other forms of abuse against children.
We support the Government to put in place laws, policies, systems and public services that are inclusive of all children and help them thrive.
We aim to keep families together and provide support to family-based solutions that are alternatives to the detention of displaced children. We work with the Government and civil society organisations to provide interim care, mental health and psycho-social support, family training and reunification, access to education or vocational training, safe water, and medical services for children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups in Somalia. We also want to empower children and youth who are uprooted, give them a voice, and ensure they find innovative solutions to problems, affecting their communities.
We help to make sure internally displaced children are protected and that their rights are respected. With partners, we run child-friendly spaces where children can play, and mothers can rest and feed their babies in private.
Read more about our work with children on the move: Child migration