Somalia: Hundreds of Child Soldiers Involved in Somali War

Mogadishu — REBEL groups and armed forces have this year recruited and used at least 869 children during the lengthy civil war in Somalia.

Eight of the children that were forcibly recruited in the period covering January to July are girls.

Al-Shabaab, an Islamist sect, accounts for an estimated 81 percent of children recruited during the period.

The illegal trend has continued despite aggressive forced child recruitment campaigns in the central and southern areas of the country as well as the self-governing Puntland region.

On a positive note, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have delivered protection services to 513 children, including 47 girls, who had escaped from Al-Shabaab or had been released by armed forces in various areas of Somalia.

The country of some 15 million people is suffering a civil war that began in the early 1990s when clan-based armed opposition groups overthrew Major General Mohamed Siad Barre.

Now late, he was in power from 1969 to 1991.

Al-Shabaab has since 2006 been fighting the Somali government and the African Union (AU)- mandated peacekeeping force for control of the country located in the Horn of Africa.

It has also carried out terror attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

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