Children seen as 'expendable', 'cheap to maintain,' according to paper presented at AU Peace and Security Council meeting
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Forty percent of all child soldiers globally are active in Africa, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Thursday.
The minister's remarks came at a ministerial meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "Something must be done about this," current chairman of the AUSPC, Mushikiwabo said describing the military use of children in the continent as a "big problem". According to a paper presented at the meeting by Ambassador Smail Chergue, AU commissioner for peace and security, it is estimated that "more than 50% of the population in many African conflict or post-conflict situations consists of children younger than 18 years old".
By Waldo Mendiluza
In an interview with Prensa Latina, the spokeswoman said that the specialized agency works in the field with various actors, in order to create a favorable environment for minors to remain with their relatives and not be so vulnerable to the recruitment by armed forces and non-state armed groups.
We also made efforts to free the children enrolled in those organizations, she said.
According to recent data released by UNICEF, at least 65,000 children were rescued in the last decade of the war's tragedy, 20,000 of them in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 9,000 in the Central African Republic and 1,600 in Chad.
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo – Being a girl, Sophie isn’t what most people expect when they hear the term “child soldier.” But the 22-year-old woman from the North Kivu region of war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was forced into this role for seven years. Rebels came to her village one night when she was 11, grabbed her along with some other children, and held them all captive in the bush.
Sophie was married off to one of the rebels and made to carry out domestic work. “I had a husband [in the bush],” she says. “I was required to cook and clean, too.”