Child recruitment in Africa and the Middle East continues largely unabated. Although the annual rate of recruitment appears to have slightly declined since 2017, such changes are assessed to be primarily driven by temporary fluctuations.
With the emergence of new conflicts/escalation of existing ones, the number of children recruited per year is estimated to be on the increase and the phenomenon of child recruitment continues to change and evolve significantly. Over the past few years, violent extremist organisations (VEOs) have increasingly engaged in systematic and sophisticated indoctrination of recruited minors. Likewise, some of these groups have demonstrated increasing willingness to recruit girls for more operationally relevant roles, including suicide-bombing missions.
Furthermore, there has been a disproportionate amount of attention vis-a-vis the children of foreign fighters located in Syria’s Al-Hol and Roj camps, even as there are currently far more minors across Iraq and Syria who have a perceived association with DAESH and whose societal integration could pose challenges on a bigger scale.