Mogadishu — GOVERNMENT forces and the Al-Shabaab terror group have been urged to release about 2 000 children recruited as fighters in Somalia's armed conflict.
Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the East African country, also demanded the immediate release of the minors kidnapped during the long running war.
"The abduction of children by the Al-Shabaab group and their recruitment and use by government security forces in the armed conflict constitute a grave violation of the children's rights," the expert at his just-concluded weeklong mission to Somalia.
According to the United Nations (UN), as of 2016, a total of 1 121 children have been killed and maimed since the civil war peaked in 2009. Hundreds of minors have been raped and about 1 000 children kidnapped.
Government held 386 children for their alleged association with Al-Shabaab.
Nyanduga, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, nonetheless commended the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for measures taken so far to rehabilitate children captured in combat and for recognising children as victims.
"The authorities must now act to stop children being used in the fighting."
Overall, the expert denounced the reports of harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention of journalists without trial.
Nyanduga called for steps to ensure traditional elders protected women against female genital mutilation, rape and other sexual and gender-based violence.