Report by Evelyne Monnay, 18 November 2016

somalieAround fifty people participated in the day of reflection on children’s rights in Somalia on November 7th 2016. The event was co-organized by the International institute for children’s rights and the RAJO association in Sion. Participants in the event working in government, academia, NGOs and the diaspora, are in agreement as to the significant need for awareness raising and training aimed at the implementation of the Convention on the rights of the child, which was ratified by the emerging State. Organizers encouraged the various actors present at the event to create a network.
In the timespan until the submission of its initial report to the UN Committee on the rights of the child due in one year, the young government must be educated as to the scope of children’s rights, what they imply, and must take measures to make the Convention known to its citizenry.

The role played by the media and television must be strengthened in order to raise popular awareness on children’s rights, which at present remains vastly unknown by the population. Somalian civil society, which is henceforth given the possibility to submit an alternative report, should assume a highly relevant position in this process and must takes steps toward mobilization. The issue of data collection is equally fundamental.

Among the most urgent priorities in regards to children in Somalia are security, education (access to free schooling and teacher training), the fight against harmful traditional practice (prevalence of excision: 98%) and infant and maternal mortality (health, hygiene). Children recruited by shebab militants and their reinsertion are also the subject of preoccupations, as is the situation of internally displaced children.

In Somalia, twenty year of civil war has taken a lasting toll on institutions. While a Federal government was instituted, the system remains in most cases based on the principle of clan division: loyalty is demonstrated vis-à-vis one’s own clan. The central government does not collect taxes, and social security is non-existent with the exception of care provided to aged parents by grown children. The Somalian context requires a deep understanding by the international community, which could support Somalia on the condition that the State’s particularities are understood.

One of the objectives of the day of reflection was to bring together actors who could potentially be involved in the implementation of children’s rights in Somalia, including the diaspora community. The said community transfers funds totaling 2 million dollars on a yearly basis, which is more that the sums transferred from international organizations. The said “remittances” allow to cover basic needs. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that a portion of the diaspora was implicated in the government collapse in 1991, and that corruption remains rampant among individuals involved in the transfer of funds. In addition, Somalians living in exile often fled their county while they were still very young.

To conclude, it is only through the concurrent efforts of all actors that the essential awareness raising and training activities can be carried out so as to promote the Convention on the rights of the child. In order to ensure the coordination of this effort, a network was created during the meeting on November 7th. Are you interested in joining? For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Day of reflexion - November 7th, 2016


Picture: Feed My Starving Children / flickr, creative commons

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