Rights Group Calls on Somali Fighters to Protect Children

Posted February 21st, 2012 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

An international human rights group says Somali militants and the country's transitional government have “failed to protect” children from fighting between the two sides.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says, in a Tuesday report, that the Islamist group al-Shabab has increasingly recruited children and targeted them for forced marriage and rape. It also says al-Shabab has attacked schools and teachers.

Human Rights Watch accuses Somalia's transitional government of using child soldiers and is calling on those who support the government to make clear that such abuses will not be tolerated.

The group also urges those gathering for an international conference on Somalia, later this week, to put the issue of protecting children high on their agenda.

The conference is scheduled for Thursday in London and will include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991 when rebels took over the country and it spiraled into chaos.