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Worldwide Child Soldiers Issue

 

The recruitment and use of children under 15 years old as soldiers is a war crime while the participation of children under 18 years old in armed conflict is prohibited under international law.  Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children are recruited in government forces or armed rebel groups.  Most of them are between 13 and 18 years of age (Amnesty International, 2011).  Some are as young as 8 years of age (Human Rights Watch, 2008).

 

Some children are abducted at school, on the streets, and at home (Amnesty International, 2011).  Some children live in extreme poverty or believe that the armed group will provide them food or security (Human Rights Watch, 2008).   Sometimes, the children may be killed if they refuse to join.  After recruited, they are used as spies, messengers, porters, and servants.  They are even sent to the front lines in combat, used to lay or clear landmines, and used as suicide bombers.  Girls may be raped or were forced to “marry” fighters (Amnesty International, 2011).

 

There are rehabilitation programs in some countries for former child soldiers.  The programs help them look for their families as well as attend schools and vocational training programs.  However, many children cannot access to these programs.  They may face a risk to be re-recruited (Human Rights Watch, 2008). 

 

In 2004, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) passed the law to end child soldier recruitment.  In 2009, DRC adopted the Child Protection Code.  However, abducting children as fighters, sex slaves, and servant has not stopped.  It reflects that passing laws is not enough.  Obviously, Implementing the law is crucial to end child soldiers issue (Amnesty International, 2011).

 

There are some organizations which stand up to stop the child soldier recruitment.  As an individual, we can do the following:

 

-        Write to the ambassadors for key countries to ratify the child soldiers treaty, also known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.   You can consider using the tool provided by Human Rights Watch at http://www.kintera.org/c.nlIWIgN2JwE/b.5763655/k.D2B0/Ratify_Child_....

 

-        Contact the White House and urge President Obama to stop giving military aid to countries that use child soldiers in their armies.  You can find more information in World Vision’s website at https://secure2.convio.net/wv/site/Advocacy?alertId=375&pg=make....  The White House’s contact information is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov.

 

References:

 

Amnesty International. (2011).  Amnesty International Letter.  New York, NY: Amnesty International

 

Human Rights Watch. (2008).  Facts about Child Soldiers.  Retrieved December 3, 2008, from http://www.hrw.org/news/2008/12/03/facts-about-child-soldiers

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Tags: abduct, armed, child, children, conflict, crimes, danger, in, poverty, recruitment, More…soldier, war

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