Hunted and Haunting By: Abby Pardue Child Soldiers
The recruitment of child soldiers in Africa is without a doubt one of the greatest tragedies in current events.
Children under the age of 18, many only reaching the age of 7 or 8 are enlisted in the military and serve as soldiers against their adult leader’s enemy.
It is estimated that more than 120,000 children under the age of 18 are participating in armed conflict, with 7 and 8 year olds carrying AK-47 rifles and killing men women and children of various villages.
The scope of the problem exists not in what is happening but how this travesty has come about. The brainwashing of small children has served as the basic means of recruiting children to serve as child soldier and if some are lucky enough (or perhaps unlucky) to reach adulthood, become leaders against the enemy.
The Lord’s Resistance Army
In Uganda, approximately 30,000 children have been abducted in the last 20 years.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) was created by Joseph Kony, who claims to be moving toward a Ugandan Christian nation ruled by theocratic leaders. His goal is marred by the means at which he tries to achieve it. The abduction of 30,000 children, all who are taught to kill around the age of 10 has made many Ugandan citizens fear the name of Joseph Kony.
Many young girls are abducted and are raped by LRA leaders or are given to older members of the LRA as “military wives.”
These girls are at times sold or traded to arms dealers in Sudan if they are not at first placed as a sex or labor slave in the LRA.
"In Sudan we were distributed to men and I was given a man who had just killed his woman ... I was not given a gun, but I helped in the abductions and grabbing of food from villagers. Girls who refused to become LRA wives were killed in front of us as a warning to the rest of us." -14 year old Concy Abanya, abducted by the LRA
The horrors that are seen in the LRA are numerous.
Grace A., an 18-year-old girl abducted and given to an LRA rebel, gave birth to a baby girl on open ground and then was forced to continue fighting. She is now speaks of her experience.
“ I picked up a gun and strapped the baby on my back. But we were defeated by government forces, and I found a way to escape."
What has been done?
The UN and other organizations have proclaimed Joseph Kony and his followers terrorists and are attempting to stop his movements. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant out for Kony’s arrest on October 6, 2006 as well as several other leaders in the LRA. The Ugandan military has attempted to kill Kony several times but have yet to succeed, but this is not enough…
In 2003, three Americans traveled to Uganda to find a way to help and bring awareness of this struggle to the public through a documentary. Their touching documentary has reached to people all over the world and has inspired many to help or contribute to this cause. It is the continuation of this cause that will bring us closer to ending the war in Uganda and the use of child soldiers to fight, kill and serve as sexual or labor slaves.
By donating money to the Invisible Children cause or by just speaking out on the subject and bringing awareness to the public, you will be able to help the countless children that are forced to serve in these armies beginning at the age of 7.
"Children and Human Rights." Amnesty International . Amnesty International. 2 Jun 2009 <http://www.amnesty.org/en/children>.
"Another Town in Africa-Lira." Kabiza . 25 May 2009. Experience Uganda Safaris. 2 Jun 2009 <http://kabiza.com/Lira-Children-Kony-Rebels.htm>.
Pike, John. "The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)." Global Security . 17 Dec 2006. Global Security. 2 Jun 2009 <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm>.