Friday, January 21, 2022

Syrian Kurds demand an end to child recruitment

Dozens of Kurdish parents and activists protested outside UN offices in Qamishli, Syria, on Sunday against the recruitment of children by local military groups.

The demonstration came after several teenage girls were reportedly recruited by groups affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led military organization that has been a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State.

In June 2019, the SDF signed a joint action plan with the United Nations to eliminate and prevent the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 in areas under its control. But the United Nations said at least 160 cases have been documented since then.

Balkis Hussain, 40, said his 15-year-old daughter has been missing for nine days.

“My daughter is underage. I don’t want her to be recruited and have weapons. I just want her to return home,” Hussain told VOA.

Khalid Jabir, co-chair of the child protection unit in the Kurdish-led autonomous administration in north and eastern Syria, confirmed that his office had recently received several complaints about child recruitment.

“Over the past few days, we have received five complaints from parents about their children missing,” she told the VOA, noting that “our office facilitated the release of one of the girls on Sunday. ”

According to Jabir, the recruitment of children is a major problem, and local governments reject the practice. According to Jabir, the Child Protection Unit has helped 213 admitted children return to their families since October 2020.

A report published in May by the United Nations stated that more than 400 children were recruited between July 2018 and June 2020 by Kurdish militias and its allied People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s northeast.


Revolutionary Youth, a controversial group affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the de facto ruling party in northeastern Syria, has been accused by several parents of being behind the recruitment of missing girls.

“I know for certain that my daughter has been kidnapped by the Revolutionary Youth, because one of the girls released on Sunday told us that they are in Revolutionary Youth custody,” Hussain said. Responsible for such kidnappings in the past. ,

“If they released her friend, why don’t they release my daughter and the rest of the girls?” Hussain asked.

VOA has tried to contact Revolutionary Youth but has not yet received a response.

“I have contacted several senior officials of the PYD and SDF, including Majloom Abdi’s office,” Hussain said, referring to the SDF’s general commander. “They made all the promises, but we haven’t seen anything yet.”

Jabir of the Child Protection Unit said efforts were on to release the remaining four girls.

American pressure

According to Nicholas Heras, a senior analyst at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, the SDF has been placed under the “human rights microscope” by the US.

“There is significant pressure on the US military in Washington to ensure that the SDF meets certain basic human rights standards, such as restrictions against the recruitment of child soldiers,” he told the VOA.

“The purpose of the UN action plan was to create a way to measure and evaluate the SDF’s adherence to international human rights norms, and not as a final state in itself,” he said.

Heras continued, “The US Congress can play a major role in ensuring that the SDF is meeting UN goals by providing US security assistance to the SDF based on international norms against the recruitment of child soldiers.” obeys.”

This article originated in VOA’s Kurdish Service.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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