A World's Shame: Child Soldiers

From Burundi to Colombia; from the Philippines to Sri Lanka and in many other countries, Governments and rebel groups are recruiting children as soldiers, says a new United Nations report. According to UNICEF, there are around 300.000 child soldiers in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Most of the children in arms are in Africa and East Asia, but reports from Latin America and South East Europe show that the this indignant problem crosses almost the entire globe. For the first time the UN named those Governments and groups that recruit youths under 18 for military combat.

The report listed 23 groups including governments and rebel factions in five countries where child soldiering is common - Afghanistan, Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Colombia, for instance, irregular forces started a recruiting campaign in public schools located in the outskirts of the largest cities.

The standards being violated include a number of human rights pacts as well as an amendment to the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child that prohibits the use of children younger than 18 in combat. These standards apply to insurgent groups as well as governments, making them accountable for such actions, the report said.

To prevent such actions a coalition of leading non-governmental organizations was formed in 1998. This coalition joined together to ban on the use of children as soldiers – a ban on all recruitment of children under the age of 18, by any armed force or group (governmental or non-governmental) – and to ensure the demobilization and rehabilitation of all existing child soldiers. "I would like to give you a message. Please do your best to tell the entire world what is happening to us children. So that other children don't have to pass through this violence." - 15-year-old girl abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. No further comments.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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