Central Africa

Armed and Underaged

What's Happening?

In Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda you may find child soldiers. Its not just boys either. Many girls are often forced into duty as cooks or messengers. Many are abused and sometimes even raped. Child soldiers are used mostly by armed rebel groups, but in Somalia and Chad they are used in the government’s forces too. Some children are as young as 12 years old.

Why are people using child soldiers?

Few adults want to be invovled in these conflicts so for the rebels to achieve their goals they abduct children and force them into service. Children are easily manipulated, intensely loyal, fearless, and most important in endless supply. There are children who if they are told something they do it. They usually do the dirty work for the adults. Children have even had to be told to kill their own family and they do because they don’t want to die.

What other Countries use Child Soldiers?

During WW II Germany drafted adolescents and so did Iran in the 1980s. In Colombia there are approximately 8,000 children fighting in the armed rebel groups battling against the U.S. government. Today, the Asian nation of Myanmar has one of the world’s highest rates of child-soldier recruitment. Thousands of boys, some as young as 10 are purchased, kidnapped, or terrorized into joining the country’s army.

Who is trying to stop this?

Since 2002 International Justice is catching up to the people who use children soldiers. The UNICEF have helped to achieve this. But lawlessness is spreading to urban area slums. Despite the UNICEF efforts children are still being forced to go into service and it needs to stop. The number of conflicts involving children have dropped from 27 to 17 since 2004 yet there are still more more than 300,000 children soldiers.