"When they came to my village, they asked my older brother whether he was ready to join the militia. He was just 17 and he said no; they shot him in the head. Then they asked me if I was ready toBy Zack Ossit sign, so what could I do - I didnt want to die." A former child soldier taken when he was 13.
A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities. (The Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles), February 2007).
It happens throughout the world, mainly in Africa Other areas include Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East
Africa has the most critical problem with child soldiers Children as young as 9 have been involved with armed conflicts in many African countries.
Most of the time children are forced to be soldiers. Many children are faced with the option to kill or be killed. Some children join militias to avenge other attacks on their village.
Many girls also join to escape forced marriages and bad home lives. Poverty and lack of education is also a main cause. Most children are forced into local militias. Civil War Militia rebels look to inflict fear in civilians of the other local villages.
In 2003, more than 500,000 children under the age of 18, in more than 85 countries worldwide were recruited into government armies or militias. Of those 500,000…300,000 actually were actively involved with armed forces. 8,000 children are believed to be serving in local Afghanistan police forces.
Females who are orphans or unaccompanied by adults are often targeted. Many are raped or sexually assaulted. Psychological Trauma STD’s Unwanted Pregnancies Often are social outcasts.
Women child soldiers are often taken to carry ammunition, and to be raped by members of other militias. Many children are addicted to many drugs like brown brown (a mix of cocaine and gun powder), marijuana, and cocaine. Children are often brainwashed by their captors. Children often witness family and friends killed, they were forced to rape other men and women.
Program established in many war-torn countries, that take child soldiers from local militias and groom them to become positive factors in society. This program lacks funds, causing many of these sights to close down, and not be factors in many countries.
Child Soldiers Global Report in 2008 said that the following countries used child soldiers between 2004-2007 Chad Democratic Republic of Congo Israel Myanmar Somalia Sudan & Southern Sudan Uganda Yemen Countries below use child soldiers to loot, and commit crimes against civilians Columbia Iran Sri Lanka
In 2007, as many as 26 countries recruited 16 year old and 17 year old boys into their peacetime armies. Australia Austria Bangladesh Canada Cuba Democratic Republic of Congo Myanmar Netherlands Russia United Kingdom USA
Former Sierra Leonean child soldier. Wrote the book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of a Boy Soldier Human rights activist for Child Soldiers.
Participate in Red Hand Day Send letters to high ranking officials in governments of countries that still use child soldiers. Speak out against this madness Red Hand Day, in Geneva.
Started in 2002 This project has collected over 350,000 Red Hands from all over the world. Over 40 countries worldwide participate. February 12 is Red Hand Day Don’t let the children die for you-They are the future! Rahel Fuchs Schliez, Germany
"I feel so bad about the things that I did. It disturbs me so much that I inflicted death on otherpeople. When I go home I must do some traditional rites because I have killed. I must performthese rites and cleanse myself. I still dream about the boy from my village that I killed. I see himin my dreams, and he is talking to me, saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying." A 16-year-old girl after demobilization from an armed group"They filled the forms and asked my age, and when I said 16 I was slapped andhe said, You are 18. Answer 18. He asked me again and I said, But thats mytrue age. The sergeant asked, Then why did you enlist in the army? I said,Against my will. I was captured. He said, Okay, keep your mouth shut then,and he filled in the form. I just wanted to go back home and I told them, butthey refused. I said, Then please let me make one phone call, but they refusedthat too." (Maung Zaw Oo, describing the second time he was forced into theTatmadaw Kyi (army) in 2005.)"They give you a gun and you have to kill the best friend you have. They do itto see if they can trust you. If you dont kill him, your friend will be ordered tokill you. I had to do it because otherwise I would have been killed. Thats whyI got out. I couldnt stand it any longer." (17-year-old boy, joined paramilitarygroup aged 7, when a street child.)
"I would like you to give amessage. Please do your bestto tell the world what ishappening to us, the children.So that other children donthave to pass through thisviolence.“ -Unkown