The number of child soldiers increases as there are more armed conflicts in the world

Siria, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria

In the last decade war has ravaged different parts of the planet.

And although each responds to different interests and objectives, they all have something in common. The involvement of children.

“They threatened my parents and took me to the forest”

“I was young. One day when I was coming back from the field with Mom and Dad we were caught in an ambush by an armed group called Mai Mai. They threatened my parents, beat them. They took me away from them and took me into the forest.”

Pablo spent two years in the hands of the militias of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who often, during the clashes, use children as human shields.

“The hardest moments were the fighting, when we had to fight. But it was also very hard to find something to eat or a place to sleep. And medical care was a real problem. There wasn’t. If you got sick you couldn’t go to a hospital. You had to find things in the forest to heal yourself. “

It is estimated that one in six children worldwide is affected by armed conflict. And the number of those who are forced to go to war is increasing.

Extreme poverty leads to giving up children

“There has been a 75% increase in child soldiers in the last ten years,” says Camille Romain des Boscs, executive director of the NGO World Vision. “Extreme poverty is one of the main explanations for the recruitment of children because armed groups promise them and their families that they will be given food and education. It is that promise that can make families hand over their children to those children. groups “.

Last week, a former commander of the Ugandan LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army, was found guilty of war crimes.

The International Criminal Court rejected the defense arguments that Dominic Ongwen, recruited as a nine-year-old boy, was in fact also a victim.

From victim to aggressor

“This illustrates all the damage that has been done to these children,” explains Camille Romain des Boscs. “It shows how childhood is destroyed and how the child goes from being a victim to being an aggressor. It underlines the need to end existence of child soldiers “.

Fortunately, Pablo has been able to get a second chance. During his rehabilitation he has learned carpentry and a new horizon in life opens up for him.

But the number of armed confrontations continues to grow. Hundreds of thousands of children will remain trapped in a hellish cycle of violence with no way out.