UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict visits Somalia
Mogadishu, 20 August 2014 - Concluding her four-day visit to Somalia, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, called for the full implementation of the Action Plan signed by Somali Government to end recruitment of child soldiers.
The visit follows the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, which calls on all governments, regional and non-governmental organizations to work with the UN to intensify efforts to meet the goal of zero use of children by any Government forces.
During her visit, Ms. Zerrougui met with the Somali President, Prime Minister and representatives of Federal Government as well as other key actors in Somalia. She also visited a UNICEF project to reintegrate children formerly associated with armed groups back into society, as well as the Serendi Rehabilitation Center. During her visit, she also engaged with the leaders from the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) in Kismayo.
“I’m here to follow up on meetings and discussions with the Somali authorities for the implementation of the two action plans that have been signed by Somali Government to end not only the recruitment of children but also end the maiming and killing of children,” said Ms. Zerrougui.
She also noted that there is consensus among the Somali leadership that no child should be recruited or used in conflict by Government forces. The SRSG assessed the progress accomplished to protect children from recruitment and use by the Somali Armed Forces and evaluated ways to overcome challenges to the full implementation of the action place signed by the Government.
Ms. Zerrougui said that she returns with a positive impression of Somalia because of the developments, the vibrant civil society and commitment from the government with supporting partners like AMISOM and UN.
“It’s a painful process and it is not easy, I’m not saying that Somalia in two years will finish the challenging problems that have lasted more than 25 years, I will also return with challenges that are extremely important and need to be addressed,” she said.
SRSG Zerrougui reiterated that the UN would continue to count on the commitment to the implementation of the agreements and also pledged to continue to provide support to the Government and people of Somalia within the framework of the mandate.
Somalia is one of seven countries mentioned by the campaign ‘Children, Not Soldiers’, which aims to end the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces by 2016.