More than 5,000 children released in 2017

On the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, the UN revealed that more than 5,000 children were released and reintegration from armed conflict in 2017.

“Children can only be freed from armed groups and forces through a comprehensive reintegration process, including medical and psycho-social support, as well as educational programmes and trainings,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said.

“Without a strong political and financial commitment to the reintegration process, re-recruitment is unfortunately likely to happen in many conflict situations.”

Somalia: Detained children face abuse

Children are being unlawfully detained and prosecuted by Somali authorities for alleged ties to Al-Shabaab, a Human Rights Watch report revealed in February.

Intelligence officials and guards used “coercive treatment and interrogations” against the children, including “cutting them off from their relatives and legal counsel, threatening them, and on occasion beating and torturing them” to obtain confessions.

According to the UN, since 2015, authorities across Somalia have detained hundreds of boys suspected of being unlawfully associated with Al-Shabab.

One 16-year-old detained by Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency for several months in 2016 told HRW: “They would take me out of my cell at night and pressure me to confess. One night, they beat me hard with something that felt like a metal stick. I was bleeding for two weeks, but no one treated me.”

Child Soldiers World Index launched at the UN in New York

The February launch of Child Soldiers International’s World Index, the first-ever online database mapping child recruitment worldwide, was covered by Reuters.

The World Index includes information on the recruitment practices, policies and laws of all 197 UN member states. It shows that children have been used in hostilities by armed groups in at least 18 countries since 2016 with seven of those nations also exploiting children in their armed forces.

With more than 10,000 data points, the World Index is an authoritative voice on the state of child recruitment by armed groups and armed forces.

'Crucial step' hailed as more than 300 child soldiers released in South Sudan

More than 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, in South Sudan were freed by armed groups in February, the Guardian among those reporting the UN announcement.

Release of the 311 children in the south-west state of Gbudue represented the largest release of children in the country in three years.

“This is a crucial step in achieving our ultimate goal of having all of the thousands of children still in the ranks of armed groups reunited with their families,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, South Sudan representative for UNICEF.

50,000 children recruited for war between 2005 and 2016, new report claims

Almost 50,000 boys and girls were recruited and used by armed forces and groups between 2005 and 2016, according to research published in a new report by Save the Children.

The War on Children report says 49,640 verified cases of recruitment were recorded by the UN CAAC annual reports during the period.

The charity’s report also claims that one in every six children are now living in a global conflict zone and children are at more risk from armed conflict now than at any other time in the last 20 years,

Its new analysis found more than 357 million children were living in a conflict zone - an increase of 75% from the 200 million of 1995.

February by numbers