Children in Conflict

Since the end of President Barre's government in 1991, Somalia has had daily inter-clan and inter-factional fightings. With little warning, there will be cases of bomb explosion, kidnapping, and murder in many regions of the country. Continuous conflict has led to hunger, slaughter, and displacement of thousands of Somalis.

The war itself has killed and injured thousands of kids and has left many of them homeless as well. As parents are lost in fighting, more and more children are without families and homes. Without a functioning government to turn to for protection or a home community for social assistance, children roam around to find things to do in order to survive. Because there are no other means to secure a living, many orphans have joined the recruitment of armed conflict. The militia life has become more attractive to the children, who see a possible future of survival with their fellow soldiers. In most cases, these young soldiers from ages 8-16 come from communities where there are no schools to attend and no jobs to work and destituted families.[1] Every year the number of child soldier grow as more children are recruited into active combat.[2] It is estimated that over 200,000 Somali children have carried a gun or have been involved in a factional conflict at some point in their lives.[3] Other forms of child abuse in Somalia include child labor and human trafficking. Children in Somalia have become a "valuable 'commodity' for the various warlords that are engaged in a continuing and senseless civil war."[4] The warloads force them into their militias as they promise to pay them so that children can help pay for their family expenses or for themselves; however, the warlords never intend to pay them but only use them for fighting.

Moreso, children bear the brunt of Somalia's conflict as they face difficulties to get access to basic services, such as healthcare, food, and shelter. At the height of the conflict in Somalia, more than half the deaths of children were caused by measles.[5] Diarrhea is another common and often deadly disease amongst young Somali children. Children suffer from lack of clean water and can quickly be infected with bacteria, creating a constant threat to their lives. Because of the war, health facilities have come under attack and many have been forced to close down, which has resulted in an even smaller number of health services than Somalia originally had prior to the war. Children are unable to get necessary treatment because it is difficult to find health services. In the cases that there are health facilities around, children are not considered priority concerns.