Kenyan troops killed six children in Somalia last year, while Al-Shabaab was responsible for the deaths of 208 persons under age 18, the United Nations said in a report issued on Wednesday.
The global survey of children and armed conflict offers no details regarding the child killings attributed to the Kenya Defence Forces.
In earlier years, however, the UN said Kenyan air strikes had resulted in the deaths of several children.
“Unknown armed elements” are blamed for the killing or maiming of 477 children in Somalia last year — about half the total of 931 cited in the report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Forces fighting against Al-Shabaab also killed many children, the UN found. In addition to the deaths reportedly caused by the KDF, 21 children were said to have been killed by African Union troops, 88 by the Somali National Army and 10 by the Somali Police Force.
“Unidentified clan militias” accounted for scores of additional deaths of children, according to the UN report.
In Somalia in 2017, “most child casualties resulted from crossfire during military operations, mortar shelling, improvised explosive devices, explosive remnants of war and air strikes,” the UN recounted.
“Al-Shabaab also publicly executed children,” the report said.
The Islamist insurgents sexually abused 75 children — about twice as many as were violated by Somali government soldiers, according to the report.
Shabaab is further said to have recruited 1,770 boys and girls, the UN reported, citing the group’s “sustained reliance on children for combat and support duties.”
“Al-Shabaab used detention, violence and threats to force family members, teachers and elders to hand over their children, causing families to flee or to send their children, often unaccompanied, out of areas controlled by Al-Shabaab, in order to ensure their protection,” the report stated.
The Somali government army also recruited more than 100 children, while the country’s police force added 11 children to its ranks.
The UN draws a distinction between recruitment and abduction of children into military roles. The report says 98 percent of the 1634 child abductions in Somalia last year were carried out by Al-Shabaab.
“Abductees as young as nine were sent to Al-Shabaab madrasas or training camps,” the report said.
In South Sudan, government forces were responsible for most of the 93 killings or maimings of children, the UN found.
Soldiers in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the title of the national army, were blamed for the large majority of the 55 incidents of rape or other forms of sexual abuse committed against girls.
More than 1,200 children were recruited by armed elements in South Sudan in 2017, the report said. The largest share is attributed to the force aligned with First Vice President Taban Deng.
In a meeting with UN representatives last November, Mr Deng “acknowledged the presence of children in the ranks of his troops, reaffirmed his support for their release and subsequently nominated a child protection focal point,” the report noted.