VULNERABLE Somali street children are falling prey to terrorist groups who forcibly recruit them entice them into their ranks using money.
The Islamic militant Al-Shabaab has emerged as behind most of the recruitments.
Muktar Ali Issak, Chairman of the Disabled Persons in the southern Bay region, said 32 children had been recruited around markets where they mostly beg.
“These street children you see will be recruited easily. They will be enticed with money,” he said at an event to mark the Day of the African Child.
The event was held in Baidoa this past weekend.
Speaking during the celebrations, South West Minister of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Hassan Hussein Elay, said the administration would take every step possible to stop violence against children, including their recruitment as child soldiers.
“As a ministry, we are ready to prevent any violence against children like child soldiers. It is part of the government policy not to recruit a child below 20 years of age.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Child Protection Unit raised concern at the children held in Al-Shabaab detention centres.
Such centres are among places that cannot be accessed by either the government or NGOs (non-governmental organizations).
The Al-Shabaab, which has carried out attacks in neighbouring Kenya to the southwest, is among some insecurity challenges Somalia has battled for more than two decades.
The East African country has also suffered sporadic hunger and disease outbreaks.
Elected in Ferbuary, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, has assured security would be the top priority for his administration.
Source: CAJ News