The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has raised concern at the high number of out-of-school children in Africa, particularly in countries affected by armed conflict and the resultant effect of extreme poverty.
The PSC also dedicated its 706thmeeting held on 26 July 2017, to an Open Session on the theme: “Child Soldiers/Out of School Children in Armed Conflict in Africa”.
An armed conflict in Africa, especially the growing religious radicalism in the continent, has created political and economic instability and displacement of millions of children. Those captured are forced into taking up arms while women and girls are abused.
According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, “In Somalia, Islamic militants recruited large numbers of children from school and abducted girls for forced marriage to fighters. Suicide bombings targeting students took a very heavy toll, and schools and universities were used as military bases for fighting”.
Similar fate affects children in other African countries, and the PSC underlined that this disturbing trend needs to receive the needed attention from political leaders, human rights activists, and other members of the international community including the AU, in line with the Assembly decision of January 2017 on the Implementation of the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa by the year 2020.
H.E. Ambassador Bankole Adeoye of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was the chairman of the PSC for the month of July 2017.
Council and participants noted that all existing AU instruments on protection of civilians in armed conflict, in particular the Organization of African Unity (OAU) 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the AU 2009 Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, which is also known as the Kampala Convention.
Council and participants reaffirmed their deep concern over the persistence of scourges related to violent conflicts and crisis situations in some parts of the African continent, which have resulted in losses of innocent lives, untold suffering to the people, internally displaced persons and refugees, destruction of infrastructure and the environment, as well as derailment of national development programmes and projects among others, affecting in particular the welfare of African children.