Together with the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), we are forming a network of local child rights organisations to stop the use of child soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The issue

The exploitation of children by extremist armed groups in the MENA region is devastating the lives of children, families and communities. Reports continue to emerge of children being actively recruited by armed forces and groups in MENA countries, such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Yemen. Recruitment risks are notable in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which are hosting large refugee and other vulnerable populations.

Our impact

The network will provide an opportunity for organisations working with and for recruited children to meet one another, share information, and coordinate activities. The workshops and training that we will provide will support these organisations to strengthen their hand in reducing the recruitment of children in the region. Ultimately, this will also strengthen the global network of organisations working to end the use of children for military purposes.

What we’ll do next

In collaboration with CRIN, we will organise regional consultations so that members can share information on the child soldier situation in their country and work together to develop joint strategies to end the recruitment and use of children in the region. Through the network, we aim to promote youth engagement as an effective and appropriate method for preventing child recruitment in the region.

Background

This is a challenging time for child rights organisations in the MENA region. The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the exodus of refugees have made the region extremely volatile, presenting enormous challenges for those that are tasked to safeguard children from harm. Their work is vital for the well-being of children and it is essential that international organisations step up to support them.

Photo © Amy Smyth