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SOMALIA, AU SEEK TO PREVENT RECRUITMENT OF CHILD SOLDIERS

-- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and security forces have teamed up to prevent recruitment of child soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation.

The AU mission said in a statement released on Thursday evening that it has completed a three-day joint training on preventing recruitment and use of child soldiers in armed conflict.

Acting Head of the Joint Mission Training Centre Charles Debrah who closed the workshop asked the participants to apply and share the knowledge acquired with the Somali National Security Forces to help protect children from being exploited by armed groups.

Debrah said coordination between AMISOM and Somali security forces would help break the cycle of violence and end recruitment and use of children as soldiers in the country.

"Children have the right to grow as children and actualize their full potential. Separating the children from the ongoing conflict will promote a rapid return to peace," he said.

It's estimated more than half of Al-Shabaab's force were children, and at least 60 percent of the group's "elements" captured in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region in March 2016 were youngsters.

Some of those children said they were approached with the promise of education and jobs, he said.

The AU mission has been working closely with the Somalia government to stop the recruitment of children by Al-Shabaab militants as child soldiers.

AMISOM Child Protection Advisor Musa Gbow urged participants to exercise professionalism and uphold the international standards and values on human rights when dealing with children.

The exercise organized by AMISOM's Protection, Human Rights and Gender Cluster, held in Mogadishu, is part of the ongoing in-mission training activities for uniformed personnel from AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries.

Participants were drawn from defence forces from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda and AMISON force headquarters.--

Source: NAM News Network