Mogadishu, SOMALIA: The Alshabaab is forcing parents to hand over their children for military training, this is according to a report released by Human rights watchdog body Human Rights Watch on Monday.
According to the report, members of the group began pressuring parents, religious teachers and Elders in in late September and since then hundreds of children some as young as 8 years have fled their homes to escape the forceful recruitment.
“Al-Shabab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “To escape that cruel fate, many children have fled school or their homes.”
According to the report, Alshabaab once forcefully took over 50 children from two schools in Burkahaba region and Baidoa region of Somalia.
The report further indicates that parents, children and teachers who resist are canned, detained and even threatened with death.
A teacher who spoke to the researchers narrated an incident when the fighters tried to force him to hand over some of his students.
“They wanted 25 children ages 8 to 15, they didn’t say why, but we know that it’s because they want to indoctrinate them and then recruit them. After they hit me, some of the children started crying and tried to run out of the classroom. But the fighters were all around. They caned a 7-year-old boy who tried to escape.” The teacher narrated.
Several schools in the Baidoa region have been closed after teachers fled over fears of being forced to hand over their students while some children have been forced to stay at home over fears of being forcefully picked up for military recruitment.
In April 2017, the UN Security Council’s Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) reported that the Alshabaab through their radio had announced the introduction of a new curriculum warning teachers against western teachings ordering schools to shut down so that teachers can be retrained in the curriculum introduced.
This report comes amidst reports of the group abducting Kenyan women to work as ‘sex slaves’ in camps in Boni forest and Somalia.
On Sunday, over 100 militants raided Ishakani village along the Lamu –Somalia border at dawn waking the villagers and forced them to listen to their summons and even went to the extent of lowering the Kenyan flag hoisting it with theirs at a nearby deserted police camp.