Child Soldiers in Africa
Captured and Converted
Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Population: 65 705 093
- Child Soldiers: ~ 30 000
- One tenth of child soldiers are found in the DRC
Child soldiers are everywhere in the DRC. The country appears to thrive from them, with arguably no other country being as infamous for its recruitment of these children. The children recruited are often captured and recruited by rebel armies, forced to train and slave for the older men and become satisfactory soldiers. However, the rebel armies are not the only guilty party. The government is also responsible for recruiting children into its own armies, training them to become killing machines for their cause. The government believes that children make suitable soldiers because of the reluctance to kill them by others, as well as their influential nature. However, the government outright denies having done this crime, as the recruitment is in fact illegal by their law. This means that the crime of having child soldiers is done by both rebel and governmental sides, and children in the army is not an uncommon sight in the DRC.
Civil war in the DRC was up-scaled significantly in 1994, when the rebel group Interahamwe fled to the DRC (known as Zaire at the time) after a massive civil war in Rwanda. In 1998, the rebel group began to aid the Zairian army in its own rebellion against its "Tutsis", and thus civil war in the DRC began. The war is filled to the brim with several rebel groups, all of them active participants in child recruitment and slavery. To this day, millions have been killed in the war.
Thankfully, there are programs that try to cease the evils of child recruitment. An example of one of these programs for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Child Soldiers International, who focus their efforts into ending the involvement of children in the civil wars.
In Mozambique, much like the rest of Africa, children are seen as easy to manipulate. Rebel groups in the country are practically fueled by the child militia. The rebels have no sympathy for locals or families, and will happily capture any children they find. The children are then manipulated into thoughts and behaviours that are ideal for the rebels, and the children are then in used at war without hesitation. In Mozambique, harmless children are converted to bloodthirsty rebels.
Child soldiers were an active participant in the recently ended civil war in Mozambique. The war lasted from 1977 to 1992. The war started after a recent liberation of the country from Portugal, lead by the liberation front by the name of FREMILO. The country began to take on communist ideals, and those against the recent changes in Mozambique formed a national resistance known as RENAMO. RENAMO fought in a civil war against the government of South Africa as well as FREMILO, victorious over the latter. Their methods were cruel and inhumane, responsible for kidnapping and recruiting thousands of children and killing even more. FREMILO and RENAMO came to a stalemate and an agreement in 1992.
Though there are many programs for ending the recruitment of children throughout Africa and even the world, none are for Mozambique specifically. Any use of children in war and civil conflicts is denied by the country. There are programs within Mozambique to help child soldiers however, and any support for these children at all is helpful.