In over 18 countries in the world, child soldiers and utilized and direct participants of war. These children, are denied a real childhood or any real life other then the destruction and death that surrounds them, an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 children are serving as soldiers for rebel groups and the government in wars that are going on in the world today. All of these children, from a young age participate in modern warfare. They hold AK-47s and M-16s on the front lines of these wars, serve as human mine detectors, take part in suicide missions, carry supplies, and act as spies, messengers or lookouts for whatever country they are fighting for.
Because children and very vulnerable and easily intimidated they make very obedient soldiers. Many are just taken away from their families or recruited by force, and often must follow orders due to the fear of being killed. As a country falls during war, leaving children no schooling, driving them away from their homes, or separating them from family members, many children think that these armed groups as their best chance for survival. Others seek escape from poverty or join military forces to take revenge for family members who have been killed in the war. Some of these children are younger than 10 years old and have witnessed or taken part in acts of unbelievable violence, often against their own families or communities. These children are dealing with the worst dangers and the most horrible suffering.
вЂњIn an interview with United Nations staff in Liberia, a boy of 13 years admitted that he felt that he could not return to his family because he knew that his father would be angry with him for bringing men to the village who had raped and killed his mother in front of the whole family. He said that he had brought the men to the village because the commander had told him that he was going to be taken back to his family вЂ” вЂњafter that the rebels became my family and I did everything to please my father [the commander]вЂќ.
One of the countires with the biggest child soldier population is Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone had a huge civil war between the years of 1991-2001, which involved The Revolutionary United Front and the pro-government local militia. The pro-government local militia, otherwise known as the Kamajors, also recruits child soldiers as well. In the Kamajors the children are initiated into вЂњsecret societiesвЂќ. By following the rules of these societies the boys are told that they will gain magical powers. They come to believe that the вЂњjujuвЂќ magic will protect them and stop the enemy bullets; the Revolutionary United Front otherwise known as RUF of Sierra Leone is much more harsh than this. They are making children, to join its military and be part of their combat. The rights group, Human Rights Watch, has documented theses abductions of children as early as May .
“The RUF has forced many children to join its ranks in recent weeks, placing them on the front lines of combat,” said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. “For child soldiers, the crisis in Sierra Leone is far from over.” He called on all parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone to immediately stop the use of child soldiers and to release all abducted children and people under the age of eighteen.
These children are not only the boys so they can be put out in the front line; itвЂ™s the girls too. The boys are used to fight and to carry looted goods and military equipment and they girls are used as sex вЂњslavesвЂќ and raped regularly. But they do it willingly because they know they have no other way of survival. Many of the children after many years are transferred into demobilized RUF child soldier camps. After a little while stay at these camps the children are threatened and made false promises so that they will return to the armed force and fight again. When the fighting began again earlier this year, many children were taken abducted from outside these demobilized camps and forced to fight again against their will.
In the Human Rights Watch article about the child soldiers in Sierra Leone they interviewed many young children to hear their side of the story, one of these children was Foday. In the article he tells the story of how he was abducted and the harshness and difficulties these children endure everyday. He tells of how the RUF commanders came to the camp all the time to threaten and scare former child soldiers into rejoining the RUF, he told them that the camp was evacuated the morning of May 23 because they thought that the RUF would attempt an abduction of the whole camp. On their way to Freetown, the 86 former child soldiers who left the camp were stopped by RUF and all their possessions were taken from them by The RUF, and then they forced