Our little brothers and sisters need a bright future not wars

Posted: February 7, 2011 in guest
(This blog post is copied from the blog of a youth delegate from Rwanda. We, all the delegates have been synchronizing our blog posts between us related to child soldiers.)
Norwegian Red Cross Youth will have a great campaign this Saturday to protest against the use of children in armed forces and claim for a total ban of this inhumane phenomenon of child soldiers by collecting red hand signatures and post them on a white banner.

On the occasion of the Red Hand Day, which will take place on February 12th, I would like to examine the phenomenon of child soldiers through its’ different faces.

A child soldier. photo:google

This short blog post tends to define a child soldier and explain why and how children are recruited into military groups and afterward analyze the life of a child soldier after the military service.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) defines child soldiers as “any child—boy or girl—under eighteen years of age, who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity. This means that a child does not necessarily to take a gun and go to the battle field to be considered a child soldier. Any service for armed group classifies him in child soldiers. Today, as many as 300,000 children under the age of 18 serve in government forces or armed groups. Some are as young as 8-years-old.

Child soldiers perform a range of tasks including participation in combat, laying mines and explosives; investigating and spying, acting as decoys, guardsl or other preparations; logistics and support functions, carrying soldiers’ materials, cooking and domestic labor ; and sexual slavery or other recruitment for sexual purposes

Why this big number of children in armed forces?

Child soldiers in hezbolah photo:internet

Children join armed forces not necessarily because of their choice but because of many reasons. Among others: they are easily manipulated and therefore uniquely vulnerable to military recruitment as they don’t yet understand the consequences of their deeds. Some of them are orphans, refugees, poor and separated from their families. This particularly exposes them at risk for recruitment.


The strategies of armed forces to recruit children are as many as reasons that compel children to join these groups . Given the point of manipulation, some are promised good life and fortune after the war while others are promised food and security. Also, children are often kidnapped and forced into service. In some cases adult soldiers attract them to join militias and armies.

What are the Consequences?

While children of their age are in schools, child soldiers pass their nights in forests on torture by obliging them to kill members of their families so that they may feel stigmatized and fear to return home. They are also trained on horrible violence and drug abuse. In the past decade for instance, an estimated two million children have been killed in armed conflicts. Three times of this number have been permanently disabled or seriously injured.

A part from death and permanent injuries, the lack of education, food and shelters make former child soldiers end up on the street as criminals or be drawn back into armed groups.
So, join us to advocate for our innocent brothers and sisters and fight for a total ban of using children in army forces.

By Oswald Niyonzima, a youth delegate from Rwanda


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