Somalia Child Soldiers

Somalia has been referred to as a 'pirate state' not just because of the piracy that takes place off its shores, but because there has been no effective government since clans from across Somalia brought down the governing regime of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, armed and supported by Ethiopia.

The typical profile of Somali child soldiers is that of children aged between just eight to sixteen years of age who have been orphaned through warfare in Somalia and who have no other means to support themselves and certainly no jobs, schools nor effective government to protect or provide for them.

Many others are abducted from schools and taken to training camps. One teenager described how he had been taken from school and placed in the front line after training in an al-Shabaab camp "Out of all my classmates – about 100 boys – only two of us escaped, the rest were killed. The children were cleaned off. The children all died and the bigger soldiers ran away.”"

It is already known that many of these child soldiers have been recruited by rebel groups such as al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, however recent reports indicate that Somalia's own Transitional government has also taken to recruiting child soldiers particularly in the capital city of Mogadishu to help maintain law and order; reports fiercely denied by the government. Other reports suggest that children in Mogadishu are being picked up and placed in adult jails simply because they may be linked to the militants.

Somalia Child SoldiersAs recently as 2012, the Human Rights Watch published a report entitled “No Place for Children: Child Recruitment, Forced Marriage, and Attacks on Schools in Somalia” which detailed the recruitment of child soldiers by Al-Shabaab to replenish its fighters describing the level as "like nothing documented in the past" with abducted children being forced to act as human shields for adult fighters or as suicide bombers.

Given the situation in Somalia, where even aid agencies fear to work because of the ever present dangers to the lives of their staff, figures for the number of child soldiers operating in Somalia are not clear, however a report in 2004 by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers suggested that in the previous five years some 200,000 children had been used as child soldiers by various armed factions out of a total child population of around 4,562,000.

It is currently believed that 2000-3000 children are serving as child soldiers in Somalia at any given time. Find out more about Somalia's history and the long term conflict there in the articles below.


Somalia Child Soldiers

Somalia Child Soldiers

Somalia Child Soldiers

Somalia Child Soldiers


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Somalia Child Soldiers

Somalia Child Soldiers

A video documentary exploring claims that child soldiers are being recruited by the Somalia government to patrol in Mogadishu. The video also has children giving explanations as to why they were recruited and what 'duties' they perform.


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