The news that initially looked like a fabricated story about a young boy aged 16 appeared on Dalsan online Radio website this morning. Other media outlets began to cite it hours later, and it turned to be the talk of the town.
Faisal Abdullhi Omar aged 16 was said to have been appointed to the second highest ranking government officer by Hirshabelle state minister for internal affairs Mohamed Ali Adle.
Hirshabelle is an autonomous regional state in southern Somalia which consists of two regions; Hiran and middle-Shabelle officially one of the federal member states since the country’s federal system was introduced.
Feysal’s father was quoted saying that he feared for his son’s security after the unusual appointment. He said the boy, who is aged 16 and currently a high school student, confessed that he cannot take such a responsibility. They boy decided to resign on the same day of the appointment as a deputy district commissioner.
The motive for the appointment is not yet clear. Human rights watch (HRW) have many times showed concerns over child recruitment in Somalia.
Young children serve as military soldiers in countries with armed conflicts and Somalia is one of them.
During the civil war, many children were always seen fighting on the front lines, some of them as young as 9. These treatments against children however violate international standards as international law bans political and military groups recruiting children under 18.
The Defenders for children international Somalia (DCI-Somalia) president Abdisalan Adde Umar warned Somalia’s political parties and opposition groups against the abuse of children.
Mr. Umar talking to local journalists over the phone while in the Netherlands said that the DCI-Somalia is not watching what is done to the children, but the government can be held accountable.
”We should do all we can to protect and defend our children; they cannot be forced into recruitment. The children are the future; they should have their rights and access for education” Mr Umar stressed.
Defenders for children international opened a branch in Somalia in 2014 and have since been campaigning for children’s rights along with other international organizations.