UN Mission Alleges Turkey Recruits Syrian Children to Fight in Libya

United Nations’ Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya has alleged that Turkey facilitated the recruitment of Syrian children to fight alongside the Government of National Accord (GNA) against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in exchange for payment.

Turkey has dismissed the allegations.

Established by the UN Human Rights Council, the mission released a report on violations of rights committed in Libya since 2016 on October 1.

Under the heading of Children, the report alleges Turkey played a major role in recruiting kids between 15 and 18 years of age to join UN-backed Libya’s government and Khalifa Haftar’s LNA.

The report read in part, “The evidence established that from late 2019, Turkey facilitated the recruitment of Syrian children between 15 and 18 years of age (which was evident based on their appearance) to fight alongside the GNA against the LNA in exchange for payment.

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“These child mercenaries were utilised for different functions, including in combat units, and some in support roles, such as guards. Many were confined if they disobeyed and some of them were wounded.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Libya may have failed to comply with its obligations under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits both child recruitment and the direct participation of children in hostilities, including those not part of the State’s armed forces.

“There are also reasonable grounds to believe that Libya may have failed to comply with its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (‘OPAC’ and ‘CRC’), which mandates States Parties to take all feasible measures to ensure that children under their jurisdiction who are used in hostilities are demobilized or released from service.

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“Furthermore, both Libya and Turkey may have violated their obligations under the OPAC to prevent the recruitment and use of children to take part in hostilities. The Mission came across further allegations of child recruitment and direct participation in hostilities, but additional time would be required for investigations.”
UN Fact-Finding Mission on Libya submitted its final report in early October after having met with Libyan officials in Tripoli as part of its first visit to the country in August.

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