Specifically, the president has waived more than $19.2 million in Direct Commercial Sales, more than $1.2 million in International Military Education and Training, more than $1.7 billion in Peacekeeping Operations assistance, and more than $112 million in Section 1206 or Section 333 assistance to Somalia. The president denied Somalia more than $49.6 million in Direct Commercial Sales due to CSPA prohibitions.
According to the U.S. State Department, Somalia’s federal security forces – including the Somali National Army (SNA), Somali National Police (SPF), and National Intelligence and Security Agency – as well as its regional security forces – including the Galmudug Forces, Galmudug Police, Jubaland Forces, and Somaliland Forces – have recruited and used child soldiers. Federal and regional security forces have continued to recruit and use children as recently as 2019. At least 1,495 children were recruited and used in 2019 by armed forces and groups in Somalia – mostly by al-Shabaab, but in at least four cases by the Somali National Army. The SNA often uses child recruits in support roles – to carry equipment, run errands, guard military bases, or direct traffic – though there have also been reports of army units deploying children as front-line fighters.
The government of Somalia has taken steps to address child soldier recruitment and use. By 2011, it began screening SNA soldiers to identify children in the army’s ranks. The next year, it signed a U.N. Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children by the SNA. By 2018, the government was using biometric registration to detect and deter child soldier recruitment in its armed forces, and had launched public awareness campaigns in coordination with international organizations to raise awareness of child protection issues. And in 2019, the government published a detailed roadmap to strengthen child protection efforts and held a number of trainings with military officers, judges, and police officers. But the federal government remains limited in its ability to command and control the Somali National Army and its allied militias, especially outside the capital city of Mogadishu. As a result, the government’s efforts to implement its 2012 U.N. Action Plan have been piecemeal and incomplete.
For more information, see the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. More information on the situation in Somalia can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict’s annual report and country-specific report on Somalia.