Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Somali children suffer famine now, but suffer war always

Children are facing death in Somalia now because of the famine gripping the country. Amnesty International reminds us today that  danger is not new for those children. In the war that continuously wages in the country, children are often recruited to fight on the front-lines.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Katie Nguyen relays the statement from Amnesty.

"As a child in Somalia, you risk death all the time: you can be killed, recruited and sent to the frontline, punished by al Shabaab because you are caught listening to music or 'wearing the wrong clothes', be forced to fend for yourself because you have lost your parents or even die because you don't have access to adequate medical care," Michelle Kagari, Amnesty's deputy director for Africa, said in a statement.

"This is a never-ending conflict where children are experiencing unimaginable horrors on a daily basis," she added. "They risk becoming a lost generation if the world continues to ignore the war crimes affecting so many of them."

Amnesty blamed both government forces and Islamist groups for recruiting child soldiers, a practice that has increased since fighting escalated in 2006.

Fear of recruitment was increasingly being cited by Somali refugees as a reason for fleeing the country, according to the report which is based on interviews with refugees in Kenya and Djibouti in 2009 and in Kenya in 2010 – before drought in Somalia reached emergency levels.

It said al Shabaab were sending children to recruit other children to its ranks, as well as luring them with promises of phones and money. The group were also using threats, raids on schools and abductions to bolster their numbers.

Children were also being trained to handle firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices, Amnesty said.

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