MOGADISHU, May 27 (Xinhua) -- The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said Saturday it has intensified training of Somali security forces on child protection in armed conflict situations as it approaches the drawdown phase of its mission in June.
ATMIS Deputy Force Commander, Marius Ngendabanka, said protection of children from violence was a critical part of its peace support operations in Somalia as it enables personnel to execute their responsibilities with a child-protection lens.
"Given the ATMIS personnel's interaction with the Somali Security Forces, the training should also be cascaded as relevant to enhance their capacities in relation to child protection," Ngendabanka said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
He was speaking at the end of a weeklong training of trainers workshop which brought together ATMIS civilian and sector coordinators, protection human rights and gender (PHRG) and civilian casualty tracking, analysis and response (CCTARC) cells staff and police and military gender focal points.
According to the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child, the situation of most African children remains critical due to the unique factors of their socioeconomic, cultural, traditional and developmental circumstances, natural disasters, armed conflicts, exploitation and hunger.
As a result, the document adds, they need special safeguards and care to realize proper physical and mental maturity.
Anthony Njoroge, the lead facilitator and the Save the Children Head of Programme for Children, Youth in Peace and Security which jointly organized the training, said the workshop was part of the organization's initiative focusing on strengthening the capacity of armed state actors to prevent abuse and violence against children.
"The group we are training right now are supposed to be trainers of trainers and run training elsewhere. We needed to equip them with facilitation skills, how to build training modules, and execute them," Njoroge said.
He noted that children in Africa bear the brunt of armed conflict, with over 200 million children in Africa believed to be caught up directly or indirectly in conflict and facing violations that include attacks on schools and hospitals, rape and sexual abuse, killings and maiming, abductions and disappearances, as well as denial of humanitarian access.
Some of the training modules included child protection in peace support operations, the impact of conflicts on children, child protection issues, legal frameworks for child protection, and understanding grave violations against children amongst others.
According to ATMIS, child exploitation is still rampant in Somalia, mainly due to abduction and forced recruitment of children as soldiers by al-Shabab and other armed groups.
"We will apply these tools to ensure that the monitoring mechanisms are in place in support of all African Union frameworks and resolutions as well as the UN Security Council resolutions," said Fadir Karar, the ATMIS Civil Affairs Officer.
Mary Kaonga, who is also the ATMIS Military Gender Officer, said the 12 participants will come up with an action plan on how to share the knowledge acquired with other personnel in their areas of responsibility.