Somalia: Grave Violations Against Children

Children in Somalia
Children gathering for lessons offered by volunteers in Somalia.

Introduction & Methodology 

(This report is based on collected data by Somali human rights defenders working both in urban and rural settings in different regions in Somalia)

Children in Somalia are not like any other children in the world, as they are raised in one of the hottest armed conflict zones. They are subjected to grave violations e.g.,

  • Killing and maiming
  • Recruitment as child soldiers
  • Sexual violence
  • Attacks against their schools
  • Abduction & arbitrary detention
  • Denial of humanitarian access

perpetrated by state and non-state actors to the conflict in Somalia. Armed groups in Somalia recruit child soldiers for different purposes. Girls are forcefully married by the fighters, and to care and serve them food, where boys trained on the use of different arms and how to gather intelligence and used as porters in the battle field. A child soldier, according to the Paris Principles in 2007, is any person, 18 years of age or younger, who is or has been recruited or used by an armed group in any capacity.

Al-shabab terrorists subject children e.g., girls to forced marriages against their will, in the territories under their control. that includes many regions in central and southern Somalia and boys are forcefully trained as child soldiers to for their cause. Parents that oppose orders of child soldier recruitment by  al-shabab being killed or detained and tortured indefinitely, There are estimated 15,000 child soldiers in the territories under al-shabab’s control. In battles children are either killed or maimed.

Child soldiers who desert or escape often end up killed by al-shabab militias in reprisals and in government detention facilities. Many children are detained by the government in secret prisons in different locations in Mogadishu, Hirshabelle, Puntland, Galmudug, and Jubaland regions in Somalia, according to this report from april 2023, in this secretly captured YouTube video children send chilling message to the puntland authorities and inform them that they are wrongly detained, tortured and coerced to falsely confess terrorism activities involvement.

Back in February 2021, al-shabab’s rampage against marginalized communities, mainly nomads in Leego, Yaaqbiri Weyne, and Beledul Amiin were displaced, after sl-shabab terrorists set a fire on their their properties and belongings and their drinking wells and many of them were killed by the militias. Apparently, the displaced children and their communities needed access to emergency humanitarian aid but were denied to access the most needed humanitarian support, despite the fact that; accurate reports confirmed their situation and neither the state nor the aid agencies offered them support according to the reports in the following links;  & &

Human rights defenders for children in Somalia, recommend that; the government of Somalia to release all children in detentions without further delay and to welcome child soldiers who desert al-shabab training camps and allow them to access rehabilitations programs without discrimination on the basis of their clan affiliations and the UN relevant agencies to properly establish and implement a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on grave violations committed against children in times of armed conflict in Somalia as a conflict zone.

By – Adam,

Abdirahman Ibrahim, Fatima A., & Nasra Xasan



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