Aug 11

In early 2010, a boy led the hard-line Islamist al-Shabab fighters as they conducted military exercise in Somalia. The country’s continuous violence appears to have increased recruiting efforts of young fighters, who are easily indoctrinated. (Associated Press)

U.S. gives military aid to nations with child soldiers (Washington Times, Aug 8, 2012):

Obama issues waivers of law

Mr. Obama will decide by early October whether to withhold aid or give waivers to seven countries named in the State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons list as using children as armed combatants. The countries are Congo, Libya, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. Burma, Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are repeat offenders, named on the 2011 list.

In October, responding to the State Department’s 2011 report, Mr. Obama said it was in the “national interest of the United States” that Yemen be granted a full waiver, meaning it was entitled to receive $20 million in military financing aid and $1.2 million in training funds for fiscal 2012. He called Yemen “a key partner in counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” and said that cutting military aid would harm the U.S. relationship with the country and “have a negative impact on U.S. national security.”

The president granted a partial waiver to Congo, saying that government had “taken some steps to reduce child soldiers,” but acknowledged that the progress made by Congo “does not yet represent the kind of institutional change required to make real progress toward eliminating child soldiers.”

Chad received a waiver for efforts to come into compliance with the law. Burma, Somalia and Sudan did not receive U.S. aid subject to the act, although the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, which has child soldiers, is scheduled to receive $50 million in separate peacekeeping aid not subject to the Child Soldier Prevention Act.

In 2010, the first year the law was in effect, Mr. Obama gave full national-interest waivers to Chad, Congo, Sudan and Yemen. Continue reading »

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