Child protection training in Somalia stepped up

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With the first phase of the ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) drawdown imminent – it starts next month (June) – stepping up child protection in armed conflict situations for the Somali Security Forces (SSF) takes on new momentum.

Protecting children from violence was – and will remain – a critical part of peace support operations in the troubled east African country ATMIS Deputy Force Commander, Major General Marius Ngendabanka said adding it enabled personnel to “execute responsibilities with a child protection lens”.

The latest round of child protection training ended last week with ATMIS civilian and sector co-ordinators, protection human rights and gender (PHRG) as well as civilian casualty tracking, analysis and response (CCTARC) cells staff along with staff from police and military Training cells and the mission’s political unit.

Training modules included child protection in peace support operations, the impact of conflict on children, child protection issues, legal frameworks for child protection and understanding “grave violations against children”.

Child exploitation is still rampant in Somalia an ATMIS statement said, mainly due to abduction and forced recruitment of children as soldiers by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups.

Anthony Njoroge, lead facilitator and the Save the Children Head of Programme for Children, Youth in Peace and Security said children in Africa bear the brunt of armed conflict. There are believed to be over 200 million children in Africa caught up directly or indirectly in conflict. They face violations including attacks on schools and hospitals, rape and sexual abuse, killings and maiming, abductions and disappearances, as well as denial to humanitarian services.

Part of the training sees participants equipped with knowledge and tools to report and monitor child violations. “We will apply these tools to ensure monitoring mechanisms are in place to support all African Union (AU) frameworks and resolutions as well as United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” an ATMIS Civil Affairs Officer said.