The civil war in Somalia that started in 1991 and lasted for decades resulted in violation of the rights for the population with children and women suffering the most. Institutions were weakened and had low capacity and gaps in terms of service delivery to children.
Despite the enormous challenges facing the federal authorities, major gains have been made against the insurgents across Somalia. This slow but strategic expansion into previous inaccessible areas raises hope and optimism in Somalia and her international partners that the country is at a turning point.
Child rights and child protection has emerged as a priority area for action by the Somali government and stakeholders. The Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) was re-named and its mandate broadened in January, 2014 to include all human rights issues. The MoWHRD is mandated to guarantee the promotion and protection of the rights of children as part of the wider human rights obligations in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Human Rights Instruments ratified by Somalia. The Ministry is cognizant of the enormous responsibility before it and has shown commitment to deliver on its mandate including development of appropriate policies to domesticate regional and international conventions that Somalia is a party to.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia, 2012 defines a child as a person under 18 years of age. This is in line with Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989. According to the Somali National Development Plan (2017 2019) the children of Somalia remain among the most vulnerable in the world as a result of the widespread violations and multiple protection risks they face. Majority live in emergency settings. The violations include killing, maiming, sexual abuse, abduction, child recruitment and high rates of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage. Frequent attacks on schools and health facilities from Al Shabaab as resulted in low school attendance and high mortality and malnutrition rates. The proposed National Child Protection System and the on going legal and policy development aims at ensuring that children rights remain a focal point in the national agenda.