First of all a Happy New Year to all of you - knowing that for some this is not yet a new year, as calendars differ, and so does the beginning of a new year.
With the upcoming World Social Forum in Nairobi (see events below), the focus of this issue of co-update is on Africa. The situation in Eritrea has been highlighted in this newsletter before, and again we need to bring attention to an appalling situation. The escalation of the nearby violent conflict in Somalia has also implications for recruitment, not only of children.
Amnesty International reported in December that "the Eritrean government has arrested over 500 relatives, mostly parents, of young men and women who have either deserted the army or avoided conscription". According to Amnesty International, "the arrests have taken place in the region of Asmara, the capital city, in a sweep that started on 6 December. None of those arrested has been charged with a criminal offence or taken to court within the 48 hours stipulated by the Constitution and laws of Eritrea.
According to various NGOs and United Nations agencies, the use of child soldiers in Somalia has increased since fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) escalated in December.
Morocco is to abolish compulsory military service in a move aimed at blocking infiltration of the military by Islamists hatching an anti-monarchist plot.
Analysts believe the security concerns had deepened since the discovery in August of a group, Ansar Al Mehdi (Mehdi Partisans), accused by government of planning to launch a holy war to establish a caliphate Islamic state.
The group infiltrated the army and police to recruit at least nine of their members.
"This text of law came to abolish the obligatory military service with immediate effect, according to the in
War Resisters' International will be present at the World Social Forum in Nairobi with a range of seminars and workshops. More information is available on wri-info. Watch out for updates and meet us in Nairobi.