Funding gaps abetting use of children in war zones

Wednesday February 21 2018

Child soldiers preparing to lay down their arms

Child soldiers preparing to lay down their arms at a disarmament ceremony in Pibor, South Sudan, on February 10, 2015. An estimated 250,000 children worldwide are involved in armed conflict. AFP PHOTO | CHARLES LOMODONG 

VICTOR KIPROP
By VICTOR KIPROP
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Rights group and humanitarian organisations want countries to allocate more resources in the war against the use of child soldiers.

According to data, less than 0.6 per cent of the $174 billion global spending on official development assistance in 2015 was allocated to ending violence against children.

“We are calling on UN member states and governments to put child recruitment back on the international agenda and provide the necessary resources,”

said the global non-governmental organisation Child Soldiers International — which works to prevent the recruitment, use and exploitation of children by armed groups.

In 2015, world leaders committed to ending all forms of violence against children by 2030, as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the UN, international commitment to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict has led to the release and reintegration of more than 5,000 children in 2017, but tens of thousands more remain enslaved in the practice.

It is estimated that more than 250,000 children worldwide serve as soldiers.

Releases

Recently, some 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, were released by armed groups in South Sudan — the second-largest such release since the country plunged into civil war five years ago.

Despite the progress, more children are being recruited, kidnapped, forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces. Some 56 non-state armed groups and seven state armed forces in 14 countries were found guilty of recruiting children.

Last year, the UN verified more than 3,000 cases of child recruitment in the Democratic Republic of Congo and at least 19,000 as part of the deepening conflict in South Sudan.
This is happening even as the world marks 18 years since the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty which prohibits the induction of children under the age of 18 and their participation in hostilities.

“No child should be forced to fight in wars started and fuelled by adults. It’s time governments put in place practical steps to address the causes of conflict and bring an end to the recruitment of child soldiers,” said Andrew Hassett, the campaigns director of Christian humanitarian aid organisation, World Vision, as the world marked the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on February 12.

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