DADAAB, KENYA - The U.S.-backed government of Somalia and its Kenyan allies have recruited hundreds of Somali refugees, including children, to fight in a war against al-Shabab, an Islamist militia linked to al-Qaeda, according to former recruits, their relatives and community leaders.
Somali refugees recruited to fight Islamists
Many of the recruits were taken from the sprawling Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya, which borders Somalia. Somali government recruiters and Kenyan soldiers came to the camps late last year, promising refugees as much as $600 a month to join a force advertised as supported by the United Nations or the United States, the former recruits and their families said.
"They have stolen my son from me," said Noor Muhamed, 70, a paraplegic refugee whose son Abdi was recruited.
Across this region, children and young men are vanishing. All sides in Somalia's conflict are recruiting refugees to fight in a remote battleground in the global war on terrorism from which they fled, community leaders say.
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