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Egypt listed by US for use of child soldiers in military

Egypt listed by US for use of child soldiers in military operations
2 min read
19 September, 2023
The US government has included Egypt in its Human Trafficking Report for employing child soldiers, particularly in the North Sinai region.
The US has accused Egypt of using child soldiers [Getty]

The US government has for the first time included Egypt in its list of countries employing child soldiers, focusing primarily on the North Sinai region where Egypt has been battling an insurgency for about a decade.

The US Human Trafficking Report released on 15 September has drawn attention from international human rights organisations. 

Under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA), the US Secretary of State releases a yearly list detailing nations where the military, police, or other state institutions deploy child soldiers.

Known as "the CSPA list", this record is part of the annual US Department of State's Trafficking in Persons report. Countries highlighted on this list face restrictions on specific US military aid, training, and defense equipment for the following financial year.

According to the report, children have been unlawfully engaged by armed tribal militias affiliated with the Egyptian government in North Sinai. These children have been engaged in both combat and logistical operations under the supervision of the Egyptian armed forces.

Since approximately 2015, Egypt has relied on these tribal militias in its fight against the Sinai Province militant groups, which are affiliates of the Islamic State.

The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights (SFHR), an Egyptian human rights organisation based in the UK, published a report earlier this week that documented numerous instances of children who were either injured or killed while serving with Egyptian government-backed militias.

The use of children for military purposes violates international treaties which the Egyptian government has ratified.

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In an August 2023 release, the SFHR confirmed extensive evidence supporting the deployment of child soldiers within the tribal militias backing the Egyptian military.

International legislation forbids military recruitment of individuals under 18 years of age, with the conscription of those younger than 15 recognised as a war crime subject to international prosecution.

The US is a major donor to Egypt, but its Child Soldiers Prevention Act contains provisions halting any US military or security assistance to governments found guilty of employing child soldiers.

However, exceptions can be made if the White House considers it paramount for American national security interests to override these conditions.