Hundreds of local residents are fleeing their homes in Middle Shabelle region after Al-Shabaab accelerated its child recruitment.
According to news report from Halbeeg News carried by Amisom Media Monitoring, heavily armed Al-Shabab fighters have been engaging in gun battles with locals who recently turned down the group’s order to recruit their children in Adale District.
Al-Shabaab reportedly ordered elders and parents and other community members in rural areas, to provide hundreds of children for recruitment. The development sparked off clashes between Al-Shabaab militias and the locals in Gullane and Kadere villages.
A local resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Al-Shabaab had displaced hundreds of locals who refused to surrender their children to fight for the group.
“Many people fled from their homes after Al-Shabaab started the aggressive child recruitment campaign. We call on the government to intervene ,” he said adding that many parents and children have fled homes to escape forced recruitment.
The move comes months after a Human Rights Watch report accused the group of targeting children in its listing of members.
“Al-Shabaab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a report released in January.
“To escape that cruel fate, many children have fled school or their homes,” she added.
Over the past decade, Al-Shabaab has recruited thousands of children, who have been indoctrinated and deployed to various battles.