Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Child Soldiers

Uganda's rebel army has stepped up a campaign of child abductions in the three countries where it operates, according to foreign investigators, humanitarian groups and Ugandan military authorities in the capital, Kampala.

The Lord's Resistance Army, a messianic armed movement that has waged a 21-year insurrection against the Ugandan government, has recently scooped up more than 100 boys and girls, human rights advocates and military officials say. The children are then forced into the rebel army ranks or made to serve as sexual hostages, rights investigators say.

The abductions are being carried out in southern Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic -- three nations where the rebels maintain bases.


The London-based Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers said children were being forced to fight in 17 conflicts around the world, down from 27 in 2004.
The rest in today's Washington Post.

Ishmael Beah's memoir of a child soldier (published a year ago) is on my wishlist of books to read. At that time, he appeared on NPR's Fresh Air. He also wrote an essay for The New York Times adapted from his book:
I ran for days, weeks and months, and I couldn’t believe that the simple and precious world I had known, where nights were celebrated with storytelling and dancing and mornings greeted with the singing of birds and cock crows, was now a place where only guns spoke and sometimes it seemed even the sun hesitated to shine. After I discovered that my parents and two brothers had been killed, I felt even more lost and worthless in a world that had become pregnant with fear and suspicion as neighbor turned against neighbor and child against parent. Surviving each passing minute was nothing short of a miracle.


Anonymous said...

Burma, Uganda, the Middle East - child soldiers everywhere... I once read an article titled 'a gun as tall as me' -
another book I read a while ago had this line about children generally considered a 'renewable resource'. ouch. had blogged about it too earlier...

Unknown said...

I read Ishmael Beah's long way gone posted review while back . its one of those stories- you cry for not able to do anything and then realize who lucky you are to be part of different world.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Blood Diamond, the movie, just about manages to scratch the surface of the turmoil of the child soldiers and their families. Charu and Yuva, thanks for the links. Looking forward to reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Child conscription has played a major role in Sri Lanka's longstanding civil war in the Northern and Eastern parts of the island where thousands of child soldiers drafted by the LTTE have virtually grown up in the trenches.