Since December 2019, Fight for Humanity has been working toward implementation of the ‘Action Plan to End and Prevent the Recruitment and Use of Children’ signed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the United Nations (UN).
To make this agreement a reality in North East Syria, Fight for Humanity has been conducting advocacy initiatives and direct dialogue with the local armed and political actors.
In addition to these activities, Fight for Humanity has also held 12 awareness-raising sessions, on child protection and the Action Plan, for 467 participants from the SDF, the Self-Administration in North East Syria (SA-NES), the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and local NGOs.
These sessions focused on the Action Plan and the obligations it contains, including the prohibition to recruit children under the age of 18, even for functions such as driver, cook or manning a checkpoint. The sessions also cover topics such as the other norms aimed at protecting children and education during armed conflict.
The Syrian Democratic Forces
Fight for Humanity has trained more than 248 officers from the Syrian Democratic Forces, including commando forces at their training centres.
In August, Fight for Humanity trained 8 officers in charge of approving new recruits at the SDF recruitment centres.
The trainer presented the general principles and standards to correctly assess the age of new recruits.
The Internal Security Forces
Fight for Humanity has trained 176 officers and members of the ISF on the UN action plan. In June, two sessions gathered 155 male and female officers from different cities, while in July, 21 women officers, from different ISF centres, attended another session
Fight for Humanity’s Coordinator in NES organized a dissemination session in August, for 9 members of the Child Protection Committee in Raqqa city. This committee was recently created by the Self-Administration to work on all child protection aspects in NES, including analysing and tackling child recruitment within the armed forces. In addition to this committee, the local authorities also established a complaint mechanism that allows families and humanitarian actors to submit complaints and reports regarding the recruitment of minors into the ranks of the SDF.
It is also important that the civil society is aware of this Action Plan and Fight for Humanity conducted specific sessions for them. Later in August, two more sessions were provided for 15 local and international NGOs.
All this trainings will ensure that the obligations of the UN/SDF action plan are widely-known in the area, notably by armed actors. Even if it is early to evaluate the impact of this dissemination work, the level of awareness of the armed forces, and the population, on the action plan has already been enhanced and the UN observed that the number of children recruited by the armed forces has dropped in the area in 2020.