London — The international NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Wednesday denounced the use of child soldiers by the Islamic State linked terrorist group in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
In a statement, HRW lamented that “the armed group, known locally as Al-Shabab, has abducted hundreds of boys, some as young as 12, trained them in bases across Cabo Delgado province, and forced them to fight alongside adults against government forces”.
It added that “in the town of Palma, parents said that they watched their sons wield guns when they returned with other fighters to raid their village”.
HRW pointed out that there is an international prohibition on the use of child soldiers. Its Africa director, Mausi Segun, stressed that “using children in fighting is cruel, unlawful, and should never take place”.
HRW gathered evidence for its claims by speaking over the phone with four parents of kidnapped boys, a former child soldier, and two witnesses to abuses. The child soldier and witnesses had escaped from the Al-Shabaab training base in the administrative post of Mbau, in Mocimboa da Praia district, where they were held captive for several weeks. HRW noted that “their accounts are consistent with media reports that the armed group was kidnapping boys to be fighters”.
According to witnesses interviewed by HRW, hundreds of boys were being forced into the insurgency. One witness stated that “they behave like adult men, even picking ‘wives’ among the kidnapped girls”.
Mbau was recently liberated from the terrorists in a joint operation between Mozambican and Rwandan forces and life is slowly returning to normal in areas that have previously been attacked by the terrorists.
Despite the progress in pushing back the terrorists, there is still a humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 862,990 people have been displaced due to the violence. It calculates that 48.2 per cent of these are children. Eleven per cent of the displaced people are now based in resettlement sites, six per cent in temporary accommodation, and 82.7 per cent living with host families.
UNICEF has only received 25 million US dollars in donations to provide life-saving and life-sustaining services for children and their caregivers, out of its annual Humanitarian Action for Children appeal for Mozambique for 96.5 million US dollars. When taking into account funds carried over from previous years the funding gap stands at 60 per cent.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202110010367.html
Author : AIM
Publish date : 2021-10-01 08:52:18