Mogadishu, 18 June 2021 – A multitude of people gathered in the Capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, on Wednesday to celebrate the International Day of the African Child, with a rallying call for government policies to protect children’s rights and welfare.
The event, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), was attended by government officials, civil society activists, political players and ordinary residents to discuss issues affecting Somali children in line with the objectives of the day.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated every year on June 16. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) recognized the importance of the Day of the African Child as an advocacy tool for promoting children’s rights and advancing children’s welfare.
“We need to discuss issues affecting our children by all means. It is our responsibility to protect the children from acts of violence, stop them from accessing firearms and fight against their recruitment as child soldiers. We need the adoption of policies on early childhood education and free education,” said Mursal Buule, Child Protection Coordinator at the Somalia Ministry of Defence.
Nuurto Ahmed Mohamed, Human Rights and Gender Officer at the Ministry of Defence said Somalia has made tremendous progress against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation as well as early childhood marriages, both of which violate children’s rights and pose serious health complications to the girl child.
She also praised efforts made at curbing recruitment of child soldiers, which previously was rampant in Somalia but which has now been curtailed due to government interventions.
“In regards to recruitment of child soldiers, I want to thank the Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the Ministry of Defence for their good work that took them across the country to deregister children enlisted into the forces. They also monitor recruitment exercises to ensure no children are recruited. I congratulate them for a job well done,” Ms. Mohamed said.
Khadro Isse Mohamed, a senior official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs praised AMISOM and the government for their close cooperation and coordination in ensuring children are protected against abuse.
“The role of the Somali government is to provide effective child-friendly national legislative, policy and institutional framework that protect Somali children against child recruitment as well as to protect their other rights. AMISOM also has a role in the protection of Somali children against violence, abuse and helped in strengthening community protection mechanisms to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers,” said Khadro.
This year, the day was celebrated under the theme: “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040.”
Agenda 2040 was established in 2016 by the ACERWC and sets a 25 years agenda, laid out in 10 solid aspirations, to be achieved by the year 2040.
The main objective of the Agenda is to restore the dignity of the African child through assessing the achievements and challenges faced towards the effective implementation of the African Children’s Charter.