Photo from Flickr user Carlos. Creative Commons licence.
For this day, 4 June, I wanted to highlight the fate of child soldiers, so I did a search, a fairly simple search, for instances of the words "child soldier" on the IRIN site over the last six months.
Theses are the results:
NEPAL: Reintegration of child soldiers "taking too long"
27 May 2008 (IRIN)
PAKISTAN: Child soldiers in Swat Valley
26 May 2008 (IRIN)
SRI LANKA: Children of war wait for better lives
21 May 2008 (IRIN)
SRI LANKA: Escalating war takes toll on children
20 February 2008 (IRIN)
AFRICA: Former child soldiers at risk of HIV
15 February 2008 (PlusNews)
CHAD: Captured rebels include children
14 February 2008 (IRIN)
COTE D'IVOIRE: Former child soldiers still at risk
13 February 2008 (IRIN)
NEPAL: Challenges of reintegrating former child soldiers
31 December 2007 (IRIN)
CHAD: Child soldiers forcibly mobilised not demobilised
26 December 2007 (IRIN)
AFGHANISTAN: Child soldiers operating on several fronts
19 December 2007 (IRIN)
DRC: Concern over conscription of children, human rights abuses in North Kivu
13 December 2007 (IRIN)
It shows the extent of the problem that still exists, just over these last few months. Even when children are released from fighting they have to have some sort of rehabilitation, which is far from straightforward. They are used to getting their own way with violence and threats. Many are severely traumatised. Personality disorders, eating disorders and depression are common after-effects of the sudden changes from normal childhood into life as a soldier and then back again.
One organisation which has been working on rehabilitation of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo is CRN. Here girls celebrate the end of a rehabilitation programme with their brand new sewing machines.
Photo from Flickr user cyclopsr. Creative Commons licence.