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Children in Somalia live in a rights ‘limbo’ as they lack access to an international system that can promote their rights and hold their national states (SL, PL, CSS1) accountable. With complete absence of any structures to uphold the rights of children in CSS, at least SL government has made progress to align laws and policies to international standards of UNCRC. PL state is making strides towards establishing systems and structures that may ultimately protect children.

Overall, children's voices are rarely heard, no elaborate mechanisms exist to ensure the best interest of children and many children continue to face discrimination. Children in the CSS remain in protracted conflict, a majority of them out of school and many serving in armed groups or facing threat of recruitment as child soldiers. This is in total breach of the International Human Rights Laws.

Harmful traditional practices:

Children across Somalia are subjected to female genital mutilation, early marriages, corporal punishment, removal of incisors and cupids; dietary restrictions; child labour (54.9% in CSS); illness treatment practices that leave children hurt; revenge, discrimination and preference of a boy child among others. These practices are more common in rural areas than in urban centres.

Children without appropriate care and children on the move:

  • CSS: Total orphans – 1%; 1,860 children live on the streets; 39.9%/35.4% orphans & non orphans aged 0-4 yrs are underweight; 93% of street children have never been to school2;
  • SL: Abandoned and street children lack primary care. They are growing in number and are vulnerable to drug abuse, and lack access to health care, education & rehabilitation3.

Emergency situations and children:

  • CSS: 120 children died from conflict related incidences in 2010; 277 subjected to assault/attacks.
  • One in every seven Somali children dies before the age of five; one in every five children living in the CSS is malnourished.
  • Most of Somalia is in security phase IV (program suspension), with Mogadishu and other areas of South-Central in Phase V (evacuation). 10% of the disabled children in CSS are disabled as a result of conflict4.
  • Overall, less than 100,000 of the country's internally displaced children attend primary school5.

Child Labour:

  • 54.9% of children in CSS are involved in child labour6.
  • 20% of children in SL are affected by child labour with increasing trends but decreasing in the rural areas.

Corporal Punishment:

Many children are the first generation in their family to go to school. Schools continue to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline. It is seen as an issue in rural and urban settings. The CRSA in SL confirmed that one of the lessons children learn is that if you want to get someone to do something, use violence or inflict pain.


  1. SL – Somaliland; PL –Puntland; CSS – Central South Somalia: the three states of Somalia
  2. CSS CRSA 2010
  3. SL CRSA 2010
  5. UNHCR Briefing Sheet 2010

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