in Somalia Unaddressed in Security Council Speeches,
Conflict of Interest
NATIONS, June 16 -- As the UN Security Council debates one of its
favorite topics, Children and Armed Conflict, it has a conflict of
interest. Since 2006 it has supported, some say propped up, the
Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Now what was long known
has been more publicly
exposed, that at least 20% of the TFG's
soldiers are underage, some below ten years old.
June 15 Inner City Press asked Council President for June Claude
Heller of Mexico what the Council would do about the report. There is
a debate tomorrow, Heller said on camera. Later, emerging from
consultations in the Council chamber with, among others, delegates of
Ivory Coast and Georgia, Heller said that something would be said on
the topic on Wednesday.
foreign minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano is in New York for the
debate, slated to speak to the Press at 11:30. But not on this topic,
Inner City Press is told. What then could she be asked? If the
underaged members of drug gangs like La Familia in Michoacan should
be considered children in armed conflict?
UN's Ban and Sec't Espinosa, 2009, support
for TFG and its child soldiers not shown
here's from Secretary Espinosa's statement:
call upon the Security Council, within the limits of its mandate, to
continue being vigilant of the repercussions that armed conflicts
have on children, and to promote concrete actions to fulfill the
recommendations emanating from the Working Group on Children and
Armed Conflict. We defend the interests of children and consider
that, as a community, we must enhance our efforts to give a wide and
effective protection to children. Crimes against children cannot be
stopped if perpetrators remain unpunished."
about enablers in the recruitment of child soldiers, like the UN
Political Office on Somalia, UNDP and... the UN Security Council? We
will be asking. Sixty countries are coming to speechify. Watch this
of 10:38 a.m. -- After Susan Rice strode in at 10:11, the meeting and
speeches started. Another P5 member's spokesperson said they're aware
of the TFG Somalia expose, but "it hasn't come up, there's been
no reason for it to come up." And in today's debate on children
and armed conflict? "Let's see," the spokesperson says.
of 10:41 a.m. -- it emerges in the Security Council "quiet room"
people, including Ambassadors, are watching the Spain - Switzerland
game instead of listening to the speeches on children and armed
of 11:37 a.m. -- US Amb. Susan Rice briefly mentions Somalia, calling
on "all parties" to stop recruiting child soldiers. What
about the "party" the US is funding, the TFG? Not enough
specifics. She also mentions DRCongo, the Lord's Resistance Army and
the Central African Republic. Answers on Somalia, and on US
safeguards, are needed. But here comes Sec't Espinosa.
* * *
Denies Paying Child Soldiers of Somali TFG, Safeguards and UN Role Not
June 15 -- Since the Transitional Federal Government was
installed in Somalia, it has been known that it controlled its small
turf by using child soldiers. The US provided salaries, the UN system
Ambassador to the UN Claude Heller told Inner City Press on June 15,
when a 12 year old with an enormous AK 47 is on the front page of the
New York Times, what had been accepted changes. See video here.
Heller is the
president of UN Security Council for June, and will chair a meeting
on June 16 on children and armed conflict. After Inner City Press
asked him about the TFG, Heller replied off camera that the issue
will be raised on June 16.
Inner City Press asked but the UN and US diplomats about the issues.
Carolyn Vadino, a spokesperson at the US Mission to the UN, told
Inner City Press that
States is firmly against the use of child soldiers by all
sides in any conflict. U.S. assistance provides salary support to TFG
security forces. Prior to making payments to any individual member of
these forces we take appropriate steps to verify the ages of such
individuals to ensure that we are not funding salaries of anyone
under the age of 18."
in a war-torn
environmental like Mogadishu the US claims full control over the
payments to individual soldiers is not known. Another US official,
speaking only on background, referred to safeguards in "the
Leahy amendment." Clearly, there are more questions to be asked
Lovefest with TFG, May 2010, UN's Ban,
Kouchner, Turks, child soldiers not shown
the June 15 noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked
UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq:
Press: on Somalia, there is this report of the use by the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of child soldiers, and this
includes quotes from the UN saying that they’re aware of it. Since
the UN provides training and some funding for the TFG forces, the UN
system does, I’m wondering what safeguards are in place that the UN
itself has not been either training or funding or otherwise involved
in the use of child soldiers by the TFG?
Haq: Certainly the United Nations does not approve of
the use of child soldiers anywhere, and we would not encourage any of
that in its operations. If I have any further information on the
specifics of that, I’ll let you know. But certainly, among other
things, tomorrow, we will have as one of the guests at the noon
briefing, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who deals with this issue and you can
certainly ask that of her as well.
watch this site.
the UN's North Lawn building on June 14, Inner City Press was
approached by two Somali woman, in from Minneapolis for a conference
on the Millennium Development Goals. The women asked how
to arrange a meeting with new envoy Augustine Mahiga, to tell him of
Somalia's plight before he takes up his post in Nairobi. They spoke
of the lack of opportunity for children in Mogadishu. But these are
not voices that will be heard in Wednesday's Security Council
session. But afterward and on the sidelines, there will be questions
- perhaps even answers.