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International Issues - Brick on the wall

H U M A N R I G H T S : C H I L D R E N

Brick on the wall
Childhood in shadows of guns

   The innocence of childhood that was to carry pencil and books in their hands for schools is being smothered in the conflict regions of the world. It has been estimated that more than 40% of all armed organisations in the world use children below the age of 18 as soldiers, and more than two million children have been killed in war zones across the world.
Brick on the wall

The Graça Machel Report (UN Secretary General's expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children) declares that children under 15 years of age numbering tens of thousands (200,000 to be precise in 1988) are reported to serve in at least 25 conflict zones in the world. Colombia, Conga, Indonesia, Myanmar, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Sudan are among several others that have the dubious distinction of having child soldiers. Continuing with the gory details, the report contends that Liberia had a seven years old kid soldier, Cambodia had 20% wounded between 10-14 years age group category and in Sri Lanka, of the soldiers killed in a government attack, about 50% were in their teens and more than 70% were girls. The horrific atrocity gets accentuated by the fact that the girl child faces horrendous torture in the process. Reports have surfaced that forcibly abducted girls are 'allocated' among the units and made to serve as soldier's 'wives' in Congo.

Wielding Kalashnikovs and M-16s on the front lines, these 'obedient' soldiers serve as mine detectors, suicide bombers and even as spies and messengers. Observers have noted that in countries like Colombia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda among others, these soldiers are forcibly made to take part in horrific atrocities against civilians (that might include killing their own relatives) to 'overcome' the fear factor. In many cases, they are drugged to 'enhance their courage'.

If the denial of education and decent living to millions of children across the globe was not enough, physical disability and psychological trauma meted to this vulnerable age-group make them unfit permanently to re-join society. The reward then is nothing but deprivation and death in perpetuity.

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