MOGADISHU, 15 January 2020 – During a visit to Baidoa, South West Somalia, the Danish Government underscored their commitment to uphold the protection rights of Somali children by contributing an additional DKK50 million to UNICEF, making a total contribution of DKK115 million.
Somalia has the highest number of known cases of children who were forcibly recruited into armed groups globally. A large portion of this funding will go towards supporting former child soldiers rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities.
“I met with several children who were forced to join Al-Shabaab,” said Mette Knudsen, the Danish Ambassador to Somalia. “These children were often tortured, beaten, indoctrinated with extreme ideology and trained to be foot soldiers. It is unimaginable what these children went through. While we commend the efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia and South West Authorities to prevent child recruitment, we have to do more to protect Somali children, so they are not robbed of their innocence.”
The Danish Ambassador visited a UNICEF-supported interim care center where former child soldiers are able to learn, receive counselling and be children again, in a safe environment. UNICEF and partners are supporting many rehabilitation centers throughout the country and the ultimate goal of these safe spaces is to help these children overcome the harrowing experience they have endured and to reunite them with their families.
In addition, through the funding from the Foreign Ministry of Denmark, UNICEF, Government counterparts and partners will also provide a broader range of protection services to children and women whose rights have been violated including supporting gender-based violence survivors and preventing exploitation of children on the move, especially during an emergency. Overall, in 2019, more than 400,000 people accessed a variety of protection services.
“This funding from the Government of Denmark provides us with the much-needed opportunity to work harder and do more to end grave violations against children in Somalia,” said UNICEF Somalia Representative Werner Schultink. “If we protect Somali children, we are not only safeguarding their future but the future of the country.”
UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972, when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has several offices across the country, including Mogadishu, Baidoa, Garowe and Hargeisa. Together with over 100 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, as well as responds to emergencies and supports peacebuilding and development.
For more information, please contact:
Dheepa Pandian, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Somalia: firstname.lastname@example.org
Signe Fischer Smidt, Political Counsellor, Embassy of Denmark to Somalia: email@example.com