UN Investigates Use of Child Soldiers in Libya

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On Monday, the United Nations Security Council received an annual report concerning the situation of children in areas of conflict and war, especially in Libya.

The report detailed how some parties were involved in sending minors to fight in war-torn Libya.

In presenting the Secretary-General’s report, Virginia Gamba highlighted current trends, patterns, grave violations, and existing and emerging challenges in “the protection of children used and abused by, in and for armed conflict”.

The UN investigated cases of minors who were sent along with Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya, after they were kidnapped by armed groups in Syria.

The report found that grave violations against children were committed by all parties to the conflict, both state and non-state actors.

Between 2016 and 2020, state actors including national and international forces and coalitions were responsible for at least 26% of all violations.

“Non-state actors were responsible for about 58% of all verified violations,’ the report said. This underscored the importance of engaging with all parties to put an end to all violations being committed against children.

Notably, Turkey facilitated the recruitment of children between 15 and 18 years of age in the hostilities between Libya’s previous Government of National Accord (GNA), and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. This was the damming charge contained in a report prepared by an independent mission in Libya, which was supported by the UN Human Rights Council. The document, dated 01 October examines events in the country from 2016 to 2021.

“These child mercenaries were utilized for different functions, including in combat units, and some in support roles, such as guards. Many were confined if they disobeyed, and some of them were wounded,” the report added.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Libya may have failed to comply with its obligations under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits both child recruitment and the direct participation of children in hostilities, including those not part of the State’s armed forces,” it notes