Child soldiers continue to be recruted in Central African Republic

Posted on | mei 6, 2011 | No Comments

The use of child soldiers in armed conflict plagues our global society, as thousands of children continue to be recruited into armed conflict by both government forces and armed rebel groups in spite global efforts to combat the continued use of children. UNICEF estimates there are some 300,000 child soldiers actively fighting in at least 30 countries across the globe with the majority, an estimated 200,000 in Africa.

Unfortunately on such African country where the use of child soldiers is not a new topic, is in the Central African Republic (CAR). Child soldiers were recruited by government and opposition forces during armed conflict in the country from 2001 to 2003 during a coup against President Ange-Félix Patassé in support of General François Bozizé, who seized bower in March 2003 and then subsequently won the May 2005. The opposition Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD) and the Union of Democratic Forces (UFDR) who used utilized child soldiers in 2007 expressed willingness to demobilize their child soldiers, but only the UFDR had officially entered a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process by October 2007. Additionally armed groups from neighboring countries extensively recruited child soldiers. They then made subsequent releases of child soldiers for rehabilitation in the next two years following the agreement with the UN.

Despite efforts to demobilize and rehabilitate child soldiers in the country it they are still being forcibly recruited to fight in armed conflict. In CAR thousands of children are at risk of forced recruitment into armed groups, according to a report from the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Children are kidnapped and forced to serve, while being denied access to humanitarian help, the report says (AlertNet).

Child soldiers in Africa are led by brutal regimes and little is being done to stop it. With little to no education, an unstable environment and poverty are all reason as to how a child can be so children are easily manipulated in today’s wars. Weapons are cheap, light weight and easy to use, thus it takes little training or money to get a child ready to fight.

‘One rebel commander declared that: “They’re very good at getting information. You can send them across enemy lines and nobody suspects them [because] they’re so young.” And as soon as they are strong enough to handle an assault rifle or a semi-automatic weapon (normally at 10 years of age), children are used as soldiers‘ (The Use of Child Soldiers in Africa: An Overview Child Participation in Armed Conflict in Africa).

Once recruited the child soldiers are often forced kill as a way to break them, they are often forced to kill, and sometimes rape, other children or even members of their own family.  Child soldiers are also much cheaper than their adult counterparts as they are unpaid and fed less, thus are quick to access and cheap to use, as well as more disposable. As modern arms are light and easy to use, training children to use and fire weapons accurately is significantly easier.

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org

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