SOMALIA: Children facing the worst, says UN

IDP children in Bossaso

NAIROBI, 4 November 2010 (IRIN) – Armed groups in Somalia have continued recruiting children to fight and engage in piracy, and girls have found themselves facing increasing risk of sexual violence, a senior UN official says.

“In some areas, Al-Shabab leaders are asking parents to give [them] a child. I heard of people hiding their children to escape recruitment,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, told a news conference on 3 November following a mission to Somalia and the semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.

“Children are expressing the difficulty of living in Mogadishu,” she added. “As they walk past checkpoints they are told your ankles are showing, wear something long. Then later they cross the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] checkpoints and are told they are Al-Shabab due to their [clothing]. It is the reason they are going to Puntland.”

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=90977

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