Thursday, July 05, 2012
Somalia's Transitional Federal Government on Tuesday signed an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children in the East African country's national military, the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday.
The action plan was signed at a UN-backed meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia in the Italian capital of Rome and outlines concrete steps to be taken by the Somali government to ensure a child-free national army.
The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), Augustine Mahiga, described the agreement as "critical" for the professionalization of the security forces and said it will contribute positively to the ongoing stabilization of Somalia.
The plan was signed by Mahiga on behalf of the UN and by Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Arab Isse on behalf of the Somali government. Mahiga also strongly urged the participating governments in the ICG meeting to provide the necessary funding for the release and reintegration of children who were previously recruited.
With the action plan, the Somali Government commits to end and prevent recruitment of children in Somalia's National Armed Forces; reintegrate all children released from the armed forces with the support of the UN; criminalize the recruitment of children through national legislation; and provide the UN with unimpeded access to military installations to verify no children are present.
Deputy Prime Minister Arab Isse also pledged to sign another action plan later this month which focuses on protecting children from being killed or maimed.
After decades of warfare, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with the country's Transitional Federal Institutions currently implementing the so-called Roadmap for the End of Transition in Somalia, devised in September last year, that spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on August 20.
Since 2007, the Transitional Federal Government has been listed on the UN Secretary-General's list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. Full compliance with the action plan will result in the government being removed from the list.