The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed in a recent report that children are trained into armed groups after getting abducted and experiencing sexual violence in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.
James Elder, UNICEF Spokesperson revealed during a press briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 5 that as humanitarian access is gradually improving, reports of minors turned into armed groups are surfacing.
“As areas previously occupied by al-Shabab become accessible, unverified video material secured by armed forces in an abandoned training camp apparently shows abducted children as young as five years old handling weapons and being indoctrinated to fight,” Elder said.
The UNICEF spokesperson also revealed that recent reports showing young boys and girls who were taken from their families match reports told by family members to UNICEF’s field staff and partners.
“This leaves little doubt that children are being forcefully recruited by this non-state armed group,” Elder declared.
“The recruitment and use of children by armed groups destroys families and communities. Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose their families, safety, and their chance to go to school. The recruitment and use of children is a grave violation of international law.”
He called for rigorous measures to be taken to ensure that children are demobilised, disengaged, released, and provided with all appropriate protection services for their social reintegration.
“Children who have been associated with such armed groups are double victims and must be treated as such.”
With the Mozambican Ministry of Defense, Elder said UNICEF welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding to increase protection measures for children affected by conflict in Mozambique.
UNICEF continues to work in collaboration with the Government and partners to prepare the needs of rescued children, to support their physical and mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, as well as safe reintegration into communities.
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