from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – REPORTS of the recruitment of children as soldiers by Islamists terrorising northern Mozambique highlight the depth of the crisis that has been brewing over the past four years but is only receiving global attention.
The United Nations has alleged child soldiers had been recruited by the armed groups and were involved in the atrocities such as beheadings in the Cabo Delgado region.
Palma, the coastal town south of the border with Tanzania, is the epicentre of the crisis.
Stéphane Dujarric the UN spokesperson, disclosed child soldiers were among perpetrators of the killings but much could not be ascertained other than that.
“We are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma,” the spokesperson said.
Palma came under attack from the jihadists at the end of March.
Mozambique’s military reported this week that it had regained control of the town from the militants.
Over 700 000 people, including some 160 000 women and adolescent girls as well as 19 000 pregnant women, have been displaced during the conflict in Cabo Delgado.
Reports of the recruitment of child soldiers came as leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community met in the Mozambique capital, Maputo, to devise solutions to the crisis in the member country.
The leaders directed an immediate SADC Organ “technical deployment” to Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the
Organ by April 28.
The organ will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit to be held in Mozambique a day later.
– CAJ News