The Federal Government of Somalia and federal member states want swift action taken in addressing the use of child soldiers in armed conflict in the country.
Key representatives from the two levels of government meet in Kampala, Uganda to brainstorm on how to prevent the recruitment of; and use of children in armed conflict.
The one-week forum held from 26 - 30 November 2017, under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), provides an avenue for various government departments including the security sector to interface alongside AMISOM military, in coming up with tangible solutions to the problem.
The recruitment and use of children is not only a key security concern but also has the potential to continue to undermine efforts aimed at bringing lasting peace to Somalia.
"AMISOM is doing this as part of its transitional arrangements - that is as we transit from activities being managed and overseen by AMISOM, we would like to prepare the Somali people to manage these programmes by themselves," the Deputy Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (DSRCC), for Somalia Simon Mulongo, said in his remarks during the official opening of the meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting discussed among other issues, the importance of sensitizing the general public on the disadvantages of child recruitment in armed conflict, policy and law enforcement, that could deter the practice.
"As AMISOM, our aim is to have a smooth transitional exit strategy, but we cannot just leave vacuum. We have to ensure that the Federal Government and Federal member states continue to work together especially with regards to dealing with the prevention of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers in the conflict in Somalia," Mr. Musa Gbow, AMISOM's Child Protection Advisor and coordinator of the workshop said.
Gbow emphasized the importance of coming up with a roadmap that will be translated into a policy document, and implemented at both the federal and regional level.
"We have learnt a lot of important things from this seminar and its outcome has a huge impact on us, the Somali participants. We nicknamed the seminar the (Birmageeda) organization for the vulnerable. We have appointed a chairperson and our plan is to have coordination between those in Puntland, South West State, Jubbaland and those in Mogadishu," Ms. Fatumah Abdirahman Duhulow, the Minister of Human Rights in HirShabelle State remarked at the end of the one-week forum.
The Kampala forum which ended yesterday, was supported by the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and is part of AMISOM's mandate, to contribute to capacity of institutions in Somalia.