Child labor in somaliaBelow are 10 facts about child labor in Somalia. Decades of conflict after the civil war has brought unspeakable violence and devastation to Somalia. The war had displaced 1.4 million people and left 60 percent of the population below the poverty line. Most frightening of all are the effects the conflict has had on the children. The mortality rate of children under 5  is 85 percent, and countless children are forced to engage in child labor. These 10 facts about child labor in Somalia show the continued gravity of the situation.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Somalia

  1. Half of all children between ages 5 and 14 from central and southern Somalia are employed. Even in the more stable regions of Puntland and Somaliland, a quarter of the child population is employed. Many of these tasks include agricultural and household jobs, such as farming and cleaning. Although many children are employed by choice, the worst cases of child labor include the forced recruitment of child soldiers and other forms of forced labor.
  2. Unemployment in Somalia is one of the highest in the world. Nearly 54 percent between the ages of 15 and 64 are unemployed. Many children are sent to work by their families who cannot afford to support themselves after famine, drought, and war have ravished their rural communities. Because children are paid lower wages than adults, they are more likely to find work to help their families survive.
  3. In 2017, Somalia approved a National Development plan that would help to eliminate child labor. However, gaps in their legislation and difficulty enforcing laws under an unstable government have prevented these laws from properly addressing the child labor crisis in Somalia.
  4. Laws to protect children from exploitation largely focus on the military recruitment of children and ignore other aspects of child labor. Although children under 15 are only allowed to perform light work, the laws do not identify hazardous occupations or activities prohibited for children. Furthermore, they do not detail the amount of time that young people can work.
  5. Child trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation is not clearly prohibited or punished by law in Somalia. Procuring children for prostitution or pornography is not criminally prohibited. Children are often trafficked, especially the young girls who are very likely to drop out of school at the legal age of 14. Children in refugee camps are often kidnapped and taken to Kenya or Saudi Arabia where they are used for labor, sexual exploitation or to beg on the streets.
  6. Because many schools have been destroyed by the war, only a quarter of Somali children attend school. Legally, children are obligated to attend school until age 14. However, the legal working age is 15. This gap year between ending school and beginning work creates a critical situation for many Somali children and puts them in danger of exploitation of various kinds.
  7. Perhaps the most shocking fact among these 10 facts about child labor in Somalia is the continued use of child soldiers. Although laws were passed to prohibit the recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia, the Somali National Army continues to use children as young as 8 in armed conflict. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of their soldiers are children. Additionally, Al-Shabab still holds power in areas where the government has little practical control, particularly rural areas. Here, they can continue to forcibly recruit child soldiers to their cause.
  8. Under the support of UNICEF, community-based initiatives, such as the Tadamun Social Society, are working to offer children and parents a place to turn to for support among the upheaval in Somalia. These organizations work to find cases of abuse or child endangerment and educate people on how to better protect their children. They hold public meetings, often in refugee camps, to discuss the dangers of female genital mutilation and how to safely report concerns to town authorities and doctors.
  9. The Child Protection Committee also arranges public meetings with potential employers. Many people, both young and old, are exploited by their employers and cannot count on reliable or timely payment. These meetings help people find work with employers that offer a fair contract and the threat of legal action if the terms are breached. As workers’ rights are protected and more people at the legal working age find fair work, it is the hope that child labor will be diminished.
  10. Although delivering aid to Somalia poses certain threats to workers, organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children continue to help Somalians in need of food, water, medicine, and education. By helping Somalians fend off starvation and sickness, they help protect the children from exploitation and lessen the need for child labor. Save the Children has helped more than 1.6 million children in crisis. This year, UNICEF plans to bring safe water and drinking services to 950,000 people in Somalia. They also estimate helping 165,000 children or youth access education services.

These 10 facts about child labor in Somalia highlight the continued need for more governmental protection and humanitarian aid. Although the crisis continues, Somalia is more openly addressing the issue. As local organizations work to help keep children in school and educate people about the reality of this threat, as highlighted in these 10 facts about child labor in Somalia, there is an increasing awareness about the gravity of the situation. This awareness is the first step towards lasting change.

– Christina Laucello
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about child labor in chad

In Chad, 87 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. This contributes to the high prevalence of child labor, something for which Chad is infamous. Child labor is a controversial and multi-faceted issue, and these 10 facts about child labor in Chad show that the issue is complex and in need of a solution.

10 Facts about Child Labor in Chad

  1. A majority of all children are working. 48.8 percent of children ages 5-14 work full time. This percentage is among the highest in African countries. When added to the percentage of children who attend both school and work, the percentage goes up to 77.2.
  2. Nearly half of Chad’s population is ages 0-14. One reason why child labor in Chad is so prominent is that there are significantly more children than adults. With children under 15 years old making up 48.12 percent of the population, there is pressure to work in order to support one’s family.
  3. Child labor occurs in multiple sectors. Child labor occurs in the agricultural, urban and service industries. Children as young as 6-years-old typically work as herders for livestock, and as they get older, begin to perform other duties like chopping wood, fishing and harvesting crops. In the urban and service industries, children work in carpentry, mining and street vending. The Ministry of Labor permits light work in agriculture for children at least 12 years old, but this law can be exploited due to its lack of specificity.
  4. Education is not accessible. Another reason there are so many instances of child labor in Chad is because quality education is inaccessible. Despite the fact that the government mandates free and compulsory education up until the age of 14, only 37.9 percent of students complete primary school. Many schools require an additional payment for school-related fees, and some families cannot afford them. Additionally, there have been teacher strikes, decreasing the number of open schools in Chad altogether. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) has been attempting to improve the access and quality of education in Chad since 2017, and future data will show how the program is going to affect school-age working children in Chad.
  5. Children are forced to be soldiers. Chadian children who live in Internally Displaced Persons sites are the most popular army recruits. Sometimes, they are kidnapped by army recruiters, but other times, they join willingly to escape horrible conditions and lack of education within the IDP site. In 2007, up to 10,000 children may have been used as soldiers in the conflict between Chad and its opposition groups. The government of Chad admits that it has no policy when it comes to the recruitment of children for the army, and a UNICEF program to remove children from military groups failed due to underfunding.
  6. Human trafficking worsens child labor. As a result of trafficking, children are sold and forced to work away from their families, sometimes even begging in the streets for money. One of the worst instances of child labor and trafficking occurs when boys called mahadjirine travel to Koranic schools to get an education, but they are forced to work and return all of their profits to their fraudulent teachers. The Chadian government criminalizes labor trafficking and began a procedure to identify and prosecute offenders, but its success only lasted briefly. The number of arrests and convictions for labor traffickers decreased and then remained stagnant only two years after the initial implementation.
  7. Chad’s respect for children’s rights is ranked as worst in the world. The Realization of Children’s Rights Index grades each individual country on a scale of 1-10 on how much the country respects children’s rights based on statistics of child mortality, child labor, poverty, education and other issues that affect children’s lives. Chad is the lowest on the list of 196 countries with a score of 0.05 out of 10. The highest country, Liechtenstein, scores a 9.42 out of 10. This means that every other country in the world has more policies in place to protect the rights of children.
  8. Nearly half of children ages 15-17 work in hazardous conditions. Despite the fact that Chad’s minimum working age is 14 years old, boys and girls ages 15-17 are counted in child labor statistics because of dangerous working conditions. 42 percent of working 15-17-year-olds deal with circumstances that can be physically and mentally harmful such as extensive work hours, working underground, working with heavy machinery and abuse.
  9. Child labor correlates with the prevalence of malnutrition. As instances of child labor increase, malnutrition becomes more likely. In a study of multiple developing countries that experience child labor, it was found that in countries with only 10 percent of children working, malnutrition affected up to 50 percent. For Chad, a country where more than half of children work, malnutrition could affect up to 70 percent of children.
  10. International groups are working to prevent child labor. The International Initiative to End Child Labor is an organization that is committed to ending child labor in countries like Chad. The group educates communities on what kinds of child work are considered acceptable or unacceptable, what the worst forms of child labor are and what working conditions are appropriate for young workers. The IIECL has been working towards the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labor since 1998.

These 10 facts about child labor in Chad demonstrate the consequences of child labor and the need for action. If child labor is eradicated in Chad, the rest of Africa and the world could take notice and begin to address other countries with child labor issues as well.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Myanmar

Child labor in Myanmar continues to be a concern for one of the poorest nations in Asia. It is estimated that 1.13 million children, ages 5 through 17 work as laborers in Myanmar. This amounts to 9.3 percent of the child population. Said conditions are a violation of human rights and deprivation of well being.

Impact of Poverty

The prime factor of involvement of children in the workforce is poverty. With more than 32 percent of the nation living below the national poverty line, children work to supplement low household incomes.

However, employers exploit children and pay extremely low rates. In some cases, children as young as 14, working in garment-producing factories, make as little as 17  cents per hour; Yet, the nation’s minimum wage is $3.60.

Government Involvement in Child Trafficking

In August 2017, it was estimated 690,000 people fled from Myanmar due to acts of violence caused by the Myanmar government. Of those, nearly 400,000 were children.

In Myanmar, there is an abundance of trafficking, with little to no intervention. Frequently, the displacement of young girls to China is due to trafficking, for work, or marriage to Chinese men as child brides.

Additionally, Myanmar also has the highest number of child soldiers globally. In these cases, young boys against their will have to comply with captor commands. These commands are in sync with militarization goals and tactics.

Impact of Child Labor

One prominent consequence of child labor in Myanmar is the lack of education among children. One in five children drops out of school in order to work. In Myanmar culture, it is socially acceptable and common to see children working, rather than in school. Also, children who are in the workforce usually have little awareness, nor education about their safety and health rights in the workplace, leading to a high risk of fatal injuries.

The agricultural industry employs 60.5 percent of children in the workforce. Construction and fellow small-scale industries also have a significant role in employing child laborers. Just over half of these children perform potentially hazardous work that is likely to harm their physical or psychological health. Children as young as 15 to 17 make up 74.6 percent of the child workforce exposed to hazardous jobs.

The Intervention of Child Trafficking in Myanmar

Although child labor in Myanmar is widespread, the government of Myanmar is addressing this issue with the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The Myanmar Program on the Elimination of Child Labor Project was a four-year program (2013-2017) funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, overseen by the ILO. The goals of this project were to increase awareness of children in the workforce while improving the legal and institutional laws concerning child labor.

The Myanmar government ratified the ILO Convention No.182 which prohibits the worst forms of childhood labor and is in the process of finalizing the country’s first National Action Plan. This proposal outlines ways to reduce child labor in Myanmar while improving the lives of the children all together.

Child labor in Myanmar is a prominent issue as it affects millions of lives. There is, however, a reason to be optimistic, as the Myanmar government and fellow organizations have begun prevention protocols, ensuring a better future for the children of Myanmar.

– Marissa Pekular

 

Photo: Flickr

2018’s Worst Countries for Child Soldiers
Every year, the U.S. Department of State issues its Trafficking in Persons Report. This report gives an overview of each country’s progress against trafficking and what the United States is doing to eliminate human trafficking across the globe. One form of human trafficking is the use of child soldiers. Child soldiers are individuals under the age of 18 used for any military purpose, whether that be for acts of violence and killing, or even as cooks, messengers, spies or porters. Since 2016, over 18 different military conflicts around the world involved child soldiers.

The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report includes a list of governments implicit in the use of child soldiers, and under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA), the United States restricts military support for countries listed. This article will provide an overview of child recruitment and use in each country on the Child Soldiers Prevention Act List.

10 Countries That Use Child Soldiers

  1. Myanmar – Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has a long history of using child soldiers in warfare. The highest rate of child recruitment took place from 1990 to 2005. However, in 2012, the country signed an Action Plan with the U.N. to end the use of child soldiers. Since then, 849 children and young adults have been released. Though Myanmar has a long way to go to completely eradicate child soldiers in the country, the government is working to align tribal groups and the Tatmadaw with the U.N.’s Action Plan.

  2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also signed an Action Plan with the U.N. in 2012 and the government has since stopped recruiting child soldiers into its military. Before 2012, children ages 8 to 16-years-old made up about 60 percent of the military. Now, the main problem with child recruitment in the DRC is girls who are used as “wives” and “escorts” for the soldiers. At least one-third of all child soldiers in the DRC are girls, though only 7 percent have been released since the signing of the Action Plan. In 2019, Child Soldiers International helped 245 of these girls go back to school, including Neema, who said, “if we could go to school, the community would be nicer to us, we would get some consideration, that would help a lot.” Organizations, such as the National Action Group, conduct outreach work to help child soldiers in the DRC appropriate back into their communities. With their support, child soldiers and military “wives” can avoid the stigmatization and persecution that comes with being a child soldier.

  3. Iran – Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, spoke out against the use of child soldiers in Iran, saying, “The use of child soldiers is a moral outrage that every civilized nation rejects while Iran celebrates it. Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad. Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers.” Her comments came in the midst of the United States’ political maneuvering against Iran’s use of child soldiers. The Iranian military, especially the Basij Resistance Force, has had a long history of using child soldiers. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Basij used child soldiers to clear minefields ahead of the military. With the U.S. hard on their heels, Iranian rights activists hope that this will be a wake-up call and end the use of child soldiers in Iran.

  4. Iraq – In 2017, there were 109 confirmed cases of child soldier recruitment in Iraq, 59 of which were attributed to ISIL or ISIS. Children were used as suicide bombers, combatants, bomb manufactures and “wives” for soldiers. Many different military organizations in Iraq use “volunteer” child soldiers, but under international law, non-state armed groups cannot recruit children under 18 under any circumstances. Children’s Rights Director at Human Rights Watch, Zama Coursen-Neff, said, “The PKK [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party] should categorically denounce the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and commanders in affiliated armed groups should know that the recruitment and use of children under age 15 constitute war crimes. Boys and girls should be with their families and going to school, not used as means to military ends.” The U.N. is ready to provide support to the Iraqi government as they develop and implement reintegration services for children formally used as child soldiers.

  5. Mali – Stephane Dujarric, a U.N. spokesperson, proclaimed good news for a few child soldiers in Mali, saying, “Nine child combatants were handed over to the U.N. mission in Kidal this morning. The mission is… making arrangements for their care by child protection officials pending reunification with their family.” There were 159 documented cases of child soldier recruitment in 2017, but Mali is taking steps in the right direction. After signing an Action Plan with the U.N. in March of 2017, the military began screening their troops to identify children. However, the country failed to implement other aspects of the Action Plan. On Feb 1, 2018, Mali’s government endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, which protects the use of educational facilities in military training or conflict.

  6. Nigeria – Boko Haram is also a problem for child soldiers in Nigeria, accounting for 1,092 cases of child recruitment. However, this number has decreased by almost 50 percent in the past two years, due to the loss of territory by Boko Haram. In 2018, more than 900 children were freed from Boko Haram, some as young as 7-years-old. UNICEF spokesman, Christophe Boulierac, said, “This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles. We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children.” Nigeria signed an Action Plan with the U.N. in September of 2017, and since then, more than 8,700 children have been rehabilitated back into their communities.

  7. Somalia – Warlord Al Shabaab is the biggest threat to child soldiers in Somalia, enlisting 70 percent of the 2,217 children recruited throughout the country. More than 50 percent of Al Shabaab’s army are children under the age of 18. Col. Bonny Bamwiseki, commander of Battle Group XXII of the Uganda contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia, explained another problem of child soldiers: “Some of these boys are children of this struggle and so they become part of it.” With clan warfare and the threat of Al Shabaab all around them, many children “volunteer” to protect their families and their homes.

  8. South Sudan – South Sudan became the 168th country to sign a U.N. treaty to end the use of child soldiers.  On Sept 27, 2018, ambassadors from South Sudan met with U.N. officials to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). In the past five years, more than 19,000 children have been recruited by armed groups in South Sudan, but now the government is working to demobilize all child soldiers throughout the country and offer support for their recovery. Progress will be slow and difficult, but the U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba noted, “Today, the Government of South Sudan is making an important promise to its children that they will take all possible measures to protect them from recruitment and use by both its armed forces and armed groups active in the country.”

  9. Syria – The number of child soldiers has been increasing yearly in Syria, now reaching 851 verified cases of recruitment and use of children in the military. While Syria has not worked with the U.N. to implement an Action Plan or OPAC, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria, issued a military order banning the recruitment of children under 18. This military order requires SDF officers to transfer children to educational facilities, end salary payments to children, hear and receive complaints of child recruitment, and take measures against soldiers who fail to obey these orders. Though the number of cases of child soldiers in Syria has increased, these measures will help prevent fight the use of child soldiers in 2019.

  10. Yemen – According to the U.N., the Yemen civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crisis, killing more than 85,000 children. The war left families destitute, and many send their children off to fight in exchange for money. Children make up between 20 and 40 percent of Yemen military units, and since 2015, there have been 2,369 verified cases of child recruitment. There are currently more than 6,000 suspected child soldiers across the country, and more than 20,000 children who are in need of rehabilitation after the war. While many Yemeni officials deny the use of child soldiers or call the reports “exaggerated,” the U.N. is working to give people knowledge of this “child’s war” and reduce the number of child soldiers in Yemen.

The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report hopes to raise awareness of the use of child soldiers around the world, and encourage people to respond and make a change. The information is overwhelmingly negative, but there have been many positives since 2017. For example is that Sudan has been removed from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act List, as the U.S. Department of State believes that they have improved in regulating the use of child soldiers.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Rwanda Child Soldiers
Rwanda is an African country whose history is marred by colonialism, civil war, political turmoil and genocide. Since the 1994 genocide that killed nearly one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu, the country continues to deal with the aftermath of this suffering.

One of the central issues during the genocide and even today in the post-genocide environment has been the role of child soldiers. Here are the top 10 facts about Rwanda child soldiers.

Top 10 Facts About Rwanda Child Soldiers

  1. Post-genocide, many Rwandan survivors fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, as violence surged in the Congo and a genocide of its own erupted there, Congolese rebels forced Rwandan boys to become soldiers for their cause.
  2. Children are a vulnerable population that are more susceptible to be forced or recruited into child armies. This vulnerability is structural according to Human Rights Watch: “Government officials have done little to protect these children’s rights…traditional societal networks have been severely eroded by poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and, not least, the consequences of the genocide and war.”
  3. According to Michael Wessels, author of Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection, children are more likely to be recruited as soldiers because “They can be psychologically manipulated through a deliberate programme of starvation, thirst, fatigue, voodoo, indoctrination, beatings, the use of drugs and alcohol, and even sexual abuse to render them compliant to the new norms of child soldiering.”
  4. More than 50 percent of Rwanda’s population is 19 years old or younger and orphans account for 10 percent of this demographic. With limited access to money, shelter, education and other necessities, many of these vulnerable children fall prey to child armies.
  5. In the neighboring country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the rebel military group M23 worked with the Rwandan Defense Force to train child soldiers.
  6. With promises of money, education and jobs, children—many of them orphaned or living in extreme poverty—fell prey to the Rwandan Defense Force which falsely claimed children would be trained for the Rwandan army, not for M23.
  7. Romeo Dallaire witnessed the Rwandan genocide firsthand as a U.N. peacekeeper. According to Dallaire, one of the reasons for employing child soldiers is that “they are viewed as expendable, replaceable.”
  8. For the past 20 years, Rwanda has been working to demobilize Rwandan child soldiers and reintegrate them into Rwandan society. As of 2013, the Rwandan government demobilized about 3,000 child soldiers.
  9. Although the Rwandan government made successful moves to reduce the number of child soldiers, some reports suggest that simultaneously, the Rwandan government recruited some of those same children as soldiers. Following these accusations, the United States denied military funding to the Rwandan Army.
  10. In efforts to help reintegrate former child soldiers, the Lake Muhazi Centre is just one of many places that runs a three-month course that offers counseling, recreational activities, and job training to help facilitate assimilation back into Rwandan society.

Although Rwanda made great strides to demobilize the child soldiers that its own army produced, many child soldiers remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was not until 2013 that the Rwandan government acknowledged its role in the production of child soldiers and has, since then, made great efforts to combat this atrocity.

– Morgan Everman
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts about Myanmar Child Soldiers
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, might be on its way to achieving democracy but it is still far away from achieving a stellar record when it comes to human rights. This becomes especially evident in the case of child soldiers.

In this article, the top 10 facts about Myanmar child soldiers will be presented, one of the biggest problems this nation is currently facing.

Top 10 Facts About Myanmar Child Soldiers

  1. According to Human Rights Watch, Myanmar has the highest number of child soldiers in the world. Children are army members of both confronted sides- the national army as well as rebel groups in the ethnic minority regions outside the capital of Yangon. Roughly 350,000 soldiers make up the Burmese army with an estimated 20 percent of them being child soldiers.
  2. The children are usually taken against their will from public areas, such as parks and train stations in their town. They are often abducted and forced to be conscripted. If they refuse, they are threatened with jail time.
  3. After the 2008 Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, many families were separated and many identification documents were destroyed or damaged. This made easier for the army recruiters to prey on the vulnerable children, particularly orphans since there is no one to identify and protect them.
  4. One of the examples of exploitation of children for army purposes can be seen in the Northern Rakhine state. It has been verified that 53 boys have been used by the Border Guard Police for various purposes that include maintaining the camps, as well as constructing and carrying equipment.
  5. The largest ethnic opposition groups, the United Wa State Army, has the largest number of forcible child conscripts. Another notorious group, the Kachin Independence Army, is the only military group in Burma that recruits girls.
  6. Boys as young as 12 are forced to fight and to commit human rights violations against the civilians that they are made to round up. This includes setting villages on fire and carrying out extrajudicial killings.
  7. Human Rights Watch has urged the Burmese government as well as all opposition ethnic rebel groups that forcibly recruit children under the age of 18 to stop the practice and release all current child soldiers. It has also called for these state and non-state actors to cooperate with international organizations such as UNICEF.
  8. In June 2012, the Burmese government signed a Joint Action Plan with the government and armed groups to take steps in order to reintegrate the child soldiers into civilian life. The plan also entailed allowing U.N. workers to access military bases.
  9. Since signing the deal in 2012, the government has released 924 children, according to a statement released by child protection agency UNICEF.
  10. The government has released 75 child soldiers in 2018 as part of the above mentioned process to end decades of forced recruitment of soldiers under the age of 18.

In conclusion, Myanmar’s development will be incomplete without the eradication of the problem of child soldiers. As long as the ethnic groups and the official Myanmar Army continue to use child soldiers to fight in their wars, the twin path of democracy and development are still a long way off.

Maneesha Khalae
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Somalia Child Soldiers
Somalia, a country located on the Horn of Africa, has an ongoing issue with child recruitment by terrorist groups, mostly Al-Shabaab. Children as young as 8 years old are often being sent to the frontline for combat and are taught to transport explosives, work as spies and handle weapons. In the article below the top 10 facts about child soldiers in Somalia are listed.

Top 10 Facts About Somalia Child Soldiers

  1. According to a report issued to the United Nations, 6,163 Somalia children were recruited as soldiers during the period of April 1, 2010, to July 31, 2016. Out of this number, 5,993 were boys and 230 were girls. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization that is in alliance with Al-Qaeda, accounted for 70 percent of the recruited children. 
  2. The Secretary-General of U.N. is alarmed by the increasing number of violations against the young children, including the uprise of recruitment, the attacks made on schools, the act of sexual violation and cases of abduction. For instance, 64 school attacks were reported, out of which 58 are linked with Al-Shabaab.
  3. The U.N. chief reported that some of the children have been targeted with the promise of pursuing an education and job. Generally, the children are promised a better future in exchange for their services.
  4. Boys are captured on the battlefield by intelligence agencies. Most boys are then arrested and beaten during security operations held by the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in the capital of Mogadishu. This leaves children caught in between explosions and government detention.
  5. Interrogations are used against the kids and result in torture and the disconnection with the relatives. In one case, a 16-year-old boy told Human Right’s Watch (HRW) that he was abused by NISA in 2016. He stated that he was taken out of his cell at night and forced to confess. He was bleeding for two weeks, but no one helped him. 
  6. The federal government in Somalia promised to send captured children to The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for rehabilitation. However, only 250 children were released since 2015.
  7. U.S. troops aided Somalia’s security during a raid that took place in January 2018. According to a statement made by a U.S. military official to CNN, the troops rescued 30 child soldiers.
  8. There are 500 U.S. troops currently located in Somalia working as military advisers and conventional logistic personnel. U.S. Navy SEALs are deployed to Somalia to serve as advisors to their security forces.
  9. Recently, the U.S. suspended some aid to Somali troops due to worries about corruption. However, Somali units that are advised by American military personnel are still receiving aid.
  10. Since January 2015, multiple pieces of training of personnel from African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission, and Somali National Army (SNA) on countering the use of child soldiers have taken place. With the support of the British Peace Support Training, these developments help protect the children in Somalia.

Several of these top 10 facts about Somalia child soldiers presented above showcase the work of organizations like AMISOM where the focus is on combating the number of cases of child recruitment.

In order for child recruitment to be fully eradicated in the country, nongovernmental organization, government and foreign agencies must work together. This groundbreaking work will not only help protect the children in Somalia but may also bring hope to end all conflict between the Somali and African forces.

– Kathleen Smith
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Yemen Child Soldiers
Yemen, a relatively small country located south of Saudi Arabia and east of the Red Sea, currently has one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet. Similar to situations is most conflicts, Yemeni children have suffered immensely since the war began in 2014. In particular, Yemen has seen the recruitment of child soldiers as a common practice. Since this is a very serious issue, in the text below top 10 facts about Yemen child soldiers are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Yemen Child Soldiers

  1. The year 2014 witnessed the beginning of the crisis in Yemen when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels took over most of the country’s cities, including the capital Sanaa. In response, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition in support of the government that was led by Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.
  2. Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have mainly waged a campaign of air strikes and an ongoing land, air and sea blockade. According to the World Health Organisation, as of early 2018, over 8,600 people have died and around 50,000 have been injured. In addition to this fact, Yemen is experiencing one of the worst modern world’s cholera outbreak.
  3. Although both Houthi forces and pro-government forces claim child soldiers are frowned upon on, the number of child soldiers has increased in Yemen over the years. The U.N. reports that an estimated 517 children were recruited in Yemen during 2016. In 2017, however, this number expanded to 842. This includes children as young as 11 years old. In total, an official tally approximates that around 2,369 children have been used in combat since 2015.
  4. Of these confirmed cases, Houthi rebels share the most responsibility for the recruitment of Yemeni children. Out of the 842 recruited child soldiers in 2017, 534 fought under the Houthi rebels. Of course, Houthi rebels are not the only ones who participate in using child soldiers for their cause, since another, pro-government side, recruits child soldiers as well.
  5. Poverty has become a significant factor for child recruitment in Yemen. The USAID reports that 80 percent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance. Consequently, the recruitment of children becomes an economic exchange. These young boys are voluntarily and involuntarily recruited for the purpose of bringing the money home. With families living in poverty and in war-torn areas, fighting for the rebels or pro-government forces becomes one of the few ways to make a living at such a young age. In fact, Amnesty International stated that Houthi forces would offer to pay $80 to $120 in monthly pensions to the family of a killed child soldier.
  6. The degradation of Yemen’s educational system has also resulted in a major recruitment boom for local forces. As of March 2018, the U.N. estimated that around 2 million school-aged children were out of school and 2,500 schools were left in rubbles. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has concluded that the risks or children recruitment for war purposes rapidly increase when there is no educational or social security net for them to grow up in. Armed groups are able to distort the perceptions of parents and children into thinking that recruitment is the only path left for the future, in order to gain cheap soldiers.
  7. While Yemen child soldiers are increasingly being recruited in the current crisis, international groups are using foreign aid to stop and eventually reverse this trend. For instance, UNICEF has recently launched a campaign that emphasizes education and advocacy. It is their plan to rebuild Yemen’s educational system and make sure that children at-risk always have schooling as the best option for their future. Moreover, the U.N. has called on all parties of the conflict to return these children to schools and better protect them and their futures.
  8. The U.S. Agency for International Development has initiated numerous projects for keeping children educated and protected. As of 2017, USAID has funded the day-to-day expenses and repairs for over 200 schools, resulting in 70,000 children staying in school and receiving a basic education. Working alongside the Yemen Ministry of Education, 15,000 high-risk children were able to continue their education at home when the security environment proved too dangerous for schools. S.A.I.D. and local governments are continuously developing security and emergency plans for over 100 schools in order to better protect school children across the country.
  9. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) was launched in Yemen’s Marib province with the hope of helping former child soldiers recover from the emotional and phycological scars of combat. As of 2017, 215 children were rehabilitated in addition to 2,000 that are currently undergoing treatment.
  10. The U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen stated he was “deeply disturbed” by the conflict and the “complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war.”

With the deadly conflict still raging in Yemen with no end in sight, it may be easy to lose hope. However, humanitarians at home and abroad are continuing to fight, especially for the children that are being manipulated into seeing their future as soldiers as the only way out. The hope is still alive that the joint effort of local authorities and international organizations will secure that these children go to school, not armories.

– Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Child Soldiers in Syria
During the Syrian conflict, children, even younger than 10, have been recruited into armed groups. These children are inadequately protected by the government and many are recruited into government and terrorist organizations. The majority of them are untrained but are placed in combat situations. Years of violence and despair have plagued the lives of these children. In the text below, the top 10 facts about child soldiers in Syria are presented.

 Top 10 Facts about Child Soldiers in Syria

  1. In a survey conducted by Save the Children, 59 percent of adults interviewed in Syria claimed to know children or young adults in Syria that had been recruited into armed groups. As of 2017, 910 children have been killed and 361 have been maimed during the Syrian conflict. Child soldiers in Syria have been used as human shields, suicide bombers, front-line soldiers and as guards at checkpoints.
  2. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of armed children in the Syrian civil war verified by the U.N. was 851, more than double from the year before. The incentives used to encourage children into the army are salaries, ideologies and family or community influence. Even girls join these armed groups and seek to escape either abuse or arranged marriages.
  3. Child soldiers are encouraged to join armed groups due to poverty or being consistently targeted by specific groups. Some child soldiers in Syria have been reported to receive salaries of up to $400 a month. The families targeted by recruiters are typically poor and recruiters have been known to promise to pay and clothe children for their enlistment.
  4. In Syria, ISIS had kidnapped 463 children in 2015. ISIS usually targets ethnic minority groups and women and children in their abductions. In 2015, it was believed that this organization has 3,500 slaves that were made up mostly of women and children.
  5. The U.N. verified 29 child soldiers in Syria associated with government forces. Although the government is not supposed to conscript child soldiers, they do sit anyway. The children in Syria have little protection from the government against armed groups recruitment.
  6. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have recently issued an order that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to be enlisted into the army. This order requires commanders to verify the ages of soldiers and then take those under the age limit to authorities to end their enlistment. It also calls for punishments for commanders who refuse to comply with this order.
  7. Around 60 percent of the United Nation’s verified cases of child soldiers in Syria were associated with the Free Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army is a rebel group formed by army deserters in Turkey. Several other armed groups across Syria have adopted their banner. A child interviewed by the Human Rights Watch stated that he joined the Free Syrian Army after he was previously tortured by the government forces.
  8. Children are actively being detained in Syria due to their perceived alliance with a specific group or organization. The U.N. verified that government forces had arrested 12 boys in 2016. Anti-government forces imprison children that are believed to support the government.
  9. There are 292,000 children trapped in besieged areas. The affected areas include Damascus, Idlib, Deir Az Zor and Homs. These areas have been besieged by both rebel and pro-government forces.
  10. Recently, the United Nations appealed to the U.S. for $8 billion of aid for Syria. The first part of the proposal aims to help refugees and the second part aims to provide humanitarian aid and protection for the 13.5 million people inside Syria.

These top 10 facts about child soldiers in Syria demonstrate the desperate crisis children in this country face every day. These are children who desperately need support in a fractured world, especially child soldiers that are affected most by the violence.

Investing in the future of this region and its children could have a large impact. Rehabilitation programs for child soldiers could help them reintegrate into society and into a normal life. These children could be placed into care centers or mandatory rehab programs to deal with the psychological and physical damage they have suffered.

Programs like these have worked in other conflicts and war situations and could help Syrian child soldiers find a way out of the violence they face every day and help them re-establish relationships with their families and communities as well.

– Olivia Halliburton

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the CongoFor Western civilizations, it is hard to comprehend the usage of children as soldiers for different purposes in other countries. It is hard even to imagine a child holding a gun. However, child soldiers are a very real epidemic in most of the African continent. This problem is prevalent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Central Africa. In order to better understand the situation in this country, in the text below the top 10 facts about the child soldiers are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. DRC has been infected with many different forms of armed conflict for over 20 years. A cruel tactic that the soldiers have acquired is recruiting and abducting children from their homes and enlisting them to fight, mostly against their will. It is also important to note that over 35 percent of these children were recruited voluntarily.
  2. Of the children enlisted as child soldiers in the DRC, one-third are young girls. Unfortunately, these girls are used as “wives” for the older men and face cruel sexual abuse from commanders and soldiers alike. Of the children released from the armies only 7 percent were girls but the organization Child Soldiers International is fighting hard to safely return as many girls as possible back to their families and homes.
  3. While the Child Soldiers International organization focuses heavily on ending the exploitation of girls they also work hard in researching, advocating and raising awareness to prevent the general recruitment of child soldiers in the DRC. They work tirelessly with the U.N., Congolese organizations and the DRC government in their efforts.
  4. Children as young as 6 have been recruited and children from ages 8 to 16 make up at least 60 percent of the soldiers in the region.
  5. Child soldiers suffer from immense psychological trauma as well as the struggle with the reintegration to everyday life. There are many organizations at work to help with the reintegration process such as the Action Center for Youth and Vulnerable Children (CAJED) that provides support and job skill training for those in need.
  6. The DRC government, while it was slow to intervene at first, is not sitting back while the recruitment of child soldiers continues. It has recently signed all international agreements, treaties and protocols with regards to child soldiers in the country.
  7. Of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers in the world, approximately 10 percent were from the DRC in 2003.
  8. In 2012 the DRC’s government signed an Action Plan with the U.N. to stop the enlistment of child soldiers into any form of armed forces. This endeavor has drastically decreased the number of child soldiers but there are still illegal enlistments that go undocumented.
  9. In 2014, The DRC was listed as a tier three country, meaning there were very serious threats in terms of child trafficking in the country. Over 1,000 children were being either recruited for the armed forces or released from.
  10. The creator of the CAJED, Gilbert Munda, was once a child soldier himself in the DRC. He has paired his organization with UNICEF and focuses a lot of its efforts specifically in the DRC.

The recruitment and enlistment of child soldiers are one of the greatest humanitarian issues that our world faces. While the number of child soldiers has declined significantly over the years, there is still much that is needed to be done, but as with any other problem, the first step is acknowledgment.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr