Conflicts in the horn of Africa: a case study of children involvement in Somalia Conflict (2004-2011)
Kiteme, Susan N
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This study was designed purposely to investigate the effects that children involvement in conflict had on their social welfare, contributing factors and interventions. Towards meeting this, the study sought data from Somalia urban refugees in Nairobi who were formally registered by the UNCHR based in Nairobi. In addition, data originated from international aid agencies whose operational offices were in Nairobi. The study found that the children of Somalia were heavily subjected to perils of conflict, thus vastly denying them the freedom towards enjoyment of social rights to education, health care and security. The rapid movements that were occasioned by the regional conflicts, disorientations from the formal schooling systems, lack of schools and limited interventions hindered easy access and sustainability to education. The children were badly exposed to malnutrition and death from diseases that would otherwise have been controlled if appropriate mechanisms had been put in place. Moreover, there was an arrested move towards establishing medical centres and rebuilding of health systems in the region to cater for the children. Most often than not, medical needs were addressed by voluntarism, and NGOs whose core activities were outside the scope. In terms of security, it was observed that the children were equally exposed to conflict related deaths since they were easy targets and cheaper fighter options. The conflicts resulted to weakened parental roles which led to most children seeking means of fending for themselves in the absence of formal governance structures. Among the critical factors found to be contributing to child involvement in Somalia conflicts included political instability, internal warfare, lack of formal schooling system, ignorance of laws protecting children, limited international interventions, and adverse weather effects. While political instability gave leeway to ungoverned state leading to emergence of warring groups and ad hoc governance structures, internal warfare weakened the remaining Somalia social fabric that led to total disintegration. In addition, the warlords hardly cared about dangers of involving children soldiers in the conflicts as the internal community did little to curb the soaring tension. Other than these, lack of formal schooling and adverse weather conditions left most children idle, desperate and easy recruits to the militias. Finally, it was established that international aid agencies and NGOs worked hard to seek minimum effects of conflict on children through evacuations, immunizations, provision tof food and water, population tracking, scholarships, alternative engagements, and litigation patronage. However, more effort was required to deal with the challenging factors such as limited funding, uncoordinated efforts, directed attacks, and high mortalities leading to increasing orphaned children. Based on the findings, the study recommended that consecrated efforts are sustained to ensure free how of funds to rebuild the formal social systems including education, health and security. All children regardless of age should be allowed back to school without discrimination while accessing medical needs in closer reach. The security of children should also be prioritized by implementation of international child protection provisions and tailored Acts of Parliament. It is also recommended that further efforts are injected into the national reconciliation mechanisms that will see previously warring communities and factions reunited. Moreover, the international community should double its efforts towards building essential institutions which will form the pillars in future development. Some of the critical pillars include roads and communication networks, financial systems, tourism, and international policy. This will require a collective and centrally coordinated approach to avoid replication and skewed development patterns.