Specifically, the president has waived more than $19.2 million in Direct Commercial Sales, more than $1.5 million in International Military Education and Training, more than $1.9 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 $54.4 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 Puntland Forces, Puntland Police, Galmudug Forces, Galmudug Police, Jubaland Forces, and Somaliland Forces – have recruited and used child soldiers. At least 1,171 children were recruited and used in 2020 by armed forces and groups in Somalia, mostly by al-Shabaab. However, federal and regional security forces reportedly also continued to recruit and use children between April 2020 and March 2021. 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.
By 2011, the government of Somalia 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. In 2018, the government undertook a process of biometric registration to detect and deter child soldier recruitment in its armed forces – though it had yet to implement the system as of March 2021 – and launched public awareness campaigns in coordination with international organizations to raise awareness of child protection issues. In 2019, the government published a detailed roadmap, which is still awaiting parliamentary approval, to strengthen child protection efforts and held a number of trainings with military officers, judges, and police officers. Between April 2020 and March 2021, the government continued to implement its 2012 action plan, conduct training and awareness raising campaigns, and screen military personnel to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers. During this period, the government reportedly screened 4,899 SNA personnel and did not report identifying child soldiers among its ranks. However, corruption, official complicity, instability, and the government’s inconsistent command and control of SNA forces continued to hamper efforts to address the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in child soldiering offenses.
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’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict and country-specific report on Somalia.