Mozambique jihadists using child soldiers - Report

APA-Maputo (Mozambique)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday accused Islamic State-linked insurgents operating in northern Mozambique of allegedly using child soldiers in their fight against government and regional troops.

HRW Africa director Mausi Segun said 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.  

“Al-Shabab’s growing use of children as fighters is the latest horrifying chapter in the Cabo Delgado violence,” Segun said. 

He cited cases in which parents in Cabo Delgado’s Palma town narrated how they watched their sons wield guns when they returned with other Al-Shabab fighters to raid their villages.

The official called on the Mozambican authorities to “urgently take steps to protect children so (that) they remain with their families and in school, and aren’t exploited as weapons of war.”

The United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which Mozambique ratified in 2004, prohibits non-state armed groups from recruiting children under the age of 18. 

Similarly, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court categorizes as a war crime the conscription, enlistment, or active use of children under 15 years old in active hostilities during armed conflict. 

The HRW report comes as Mozambican forces have lately been reporting making progress against the jihadists in joint operations with troops from the Southern African Development Community and Rwanda. 


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