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Child Soldiers in Africa

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Submitted By sefhamdan
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Child Soldiers in Africa Starting around the 1980s, a horrible new source of warfare was introduced to Africa. This method is using children for warfare, or in other words, children soldiers. A child soldier is any boy or girl, under the age of 18, who is forced to join and operate within an armed force or armed group in any capacity. It does not only refer to a child who is carrying, or has carried, weapons. The method of using children in combat was first introduced in Africa in the lowlands of Mozambique, where rebel commanders used children for war. Almost half of the numbers of child soldiers in the world come from Africa. They thought that this was a great method because they were easily manipulated, very loyal, and there was an abundance of them. Also the rebel forces found it difficult to convince adults to join them, which initially drove them to the idea of using children instead. Do not be mistaken though, for Africa did not create the child soldier. In fact it was the Nazis who drafted children after they got desperate. Other countries also used children soldiers such as Iran, Iraq, and countries in religion-driven or nationalistic wars such as in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Palestinian territories. But in Africa the situation is at the lowest level. The children were used for the sole reason of greed and power and with no recognition of them whatsoever. The children were fooled by using many different schemes. The way they will try to keep the children was by using magic and superstition. The children will be told that life and death was only controlled by spirits that the commanders conjured up or brought to life by using distilled oils and amulets. A former child soldier from Sierra Leone said “The commanders would wear certain pearls and said that guns wouldn’t hurt us, and we believed it.” The children were also told that if they ate the bodies of the people they murdered, they will become stronger. Sierra Leone is one of the countries in Africa that used children soldiers. The civil war in Sierra Leone saw the RUF forces recruit thousands of children soldiers. They were commanded to do brutal abuses against anybody that stood in the way of the RUF. Such abuses were burning down a whole town, and cutting off the ears, noses, hands, arms, and legs of those who refused to cooperate. The reason the RUF was doing this was to obtain the massive amount of wealth of diamonds Sierra Leone has. Seventeen-year-old "Abubakar" (not his real name) told Human Rights Watch "It was not my wish to go fight, it was because they captured me and forced me, there was no use in arguing with them, because in the RUF if you argue with any commander they will kill you." We went from children who were afraid of gunshots to now children who were gunshots. I saw a man carrying his son that had been shot dead, but he was trying to run with him to the hospital. There was also this woman had been running and she had a baby that was tied on her back. She'd been running away from the fighting and the bullet had struck the baby and the baby had been killed but she didn't know. (Ishmael Beah, former child soldier.) Another country from the continent of Africa, which used child soldiers, is Uganda. The rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against the government that has lasted 18 years sees most of it’s battles fought by children. The children make up a whopping 90% of the LRA’s soldiers. The children are severely brutalized and forced into committing abuses on fellow abductees and even their siblings. Since the rebellion began in the 1980s, some 30,000 children have been abducted to work as child soldiers and porters, or to serve as “wives” of rebels and bear their children. These numbers have soared, with 10,000 children abducted in the past 18 months (since 2004) alone. In Congo many rebel forces are fighting against each other for overtaking the Congolese capital. Unfortunately, children soldiers are used for most of their atrocious crimes. It has been estimated that one in ten child soldiers - or 30,000 children - are found in the DRC. Amnesty International reports that, as a 15-year-old soldier, “Kalami” was made to “kill a family, to cut up their bodies and eat them.” He goes on to say “my life is lost. I have nothing to live for.” Many former child soldiers are unable to return to their families. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that many people were killed in the war and some of these children may not have any immediate family left. Secondly, some families will not accept child soldiers, their sons or brothers, back. These children have killed and are not welcome at home. Other families discourage their children from returning home so as to protect them from being harmed by members of their community who think those children are responsible for killing or any other bad deeds done in the past. Not only do Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Congo use child soldiers, there are many other countries in Africa that are using child soldiers. It is a tragedy that has been going on for too long and surely needs to stop as soon as possible. There are agencies that are helping these children though such as UNICEF and SOS. These two groups work in many countries to help child soldiers and other children scarred by conflict. Works Cited
Boatswain, Bunker, Zacarias, and Haggstrom. "Uganda: Child soldiers at centre of mounting humanitarian crisis." Ten Stories. n. page. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
"Sierra Leone." CHILD SOLDIERS Global Report 2008. COALITION TO STOP THE USE OF CHILDSOLDIERS, n.d. Web. 19 Mar 2013.
Mark, Monica. "Sierra Leone fortunes change as diamond trade brings back investment." Guardian [Freetown] 10 6 2012, Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
Barnett, Errol. "Ex-child-soldier: 'Shooting became just like drinking a glass of water'." CNN. 9 10 2012. Web. 19 Mar 2013.
Gettleman, Jeffrey. "The Perfect Weapon for the Meanest Wars." New York Times. 29 4 2007. Web. 19 Mar 2013.

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