(15-03-23) Mogadishu – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sparked controversy with its recent military agreement with Somalia, amid reports that the Somali government is recruiting children for the UAE military. Under the agreement, the UAE has been granted permission to operate an independent military presence in Somalia for clandestine operations.
Several media outlets have reported that parents have spoken out about their young children being taken by the Somali government, allegedly to be trained for technical schools. However, confidential sources have revealed that the children are being trained as soldiers for the UAE military. Images released by these sources show children as young as 15 undergoing military training in undisclosed locations.
The recruitment of child soldiers is a serious violation of international law and is considered a war crime. The UAE has been accused of ignoring these laws and exploiting vulnerable children in Somalia for their own military gain. It is worth noting that in early 2020, Black Shield Security Services, an Emirati security firm, reportedly misled around 3,000 Sudanese recruits, who were hired to work as security guards in hospitals and malls within the UAE but were sent to fight as mercenaries in armed conflicts in Yemen and Libya.
The Somali government has been accused of granting authority over these children to the UAE, despite the country signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which aims to protect children from military exploitation and use in armed conflicts, among other forms of abuse.
Several human rights organizations have called for an immediate investigation into the matter and for the Somali government to stop the recruitment of child soldiers. The international community has also been urged to intervene and hold the UAE accountable for its actions.
In response to the allegations, the Somali government has not commented on whether the children are being trained for technical schools or as soldiers. The UAE has not yet commented on the issue.
Mothers of the children misled by the government