UNICEF e-newsletter

Helping children forced to serve as soldiers

23 June 2005

War is devastating to any child’s life, and it is particularly cruel to those children who are forced – through coercion or abduction – to serve as soldiers in armed conflicts around the globe.

In 2002, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child outlawed the use of child soldiers under the age of 18. Yet today, hundreds of thousands of child soldiers are forced to fight or serve in more than 30 conflicts worldwide.

Child soldiers are often compelled to work as messengers, porters, and cooks – and as combatants on the front lines. And some boys and girls are forced into sexual slavery by armed groups.

The psychological and social wounds to these children can last long after the conflict that has disrupted their childhood has ended.

That’s why UNICEF works every day to demobilize child soldiers and to provide rehabilitation services for children who have been affected by combat.

In Liberia, for example – a country whose 14-year civil war ended in 2003 – UNICEF is working to provide thousands of former child combatants with primary school education and vocational skill training.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of children have been kidnapped by militias and forced to fight, more than 2,300 children – some as young as eight – have entered UNICEF-supported centres, where they receive medical and psychosocial care.

Yet the use of child soldiers is a growing problem, and we need your assistance to help children caught up in conflicts to regain their lost childhood. Click on the links to the right to learn more. And forward this email to your friends and family. Ask them to join our efforts by signing up for the UNICEF email list.

Thank you for your support.

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection

© UNICEF/HQ01-0088/Mann
Former child soldiers in southern Sudan link hands as they enter a plane that will transport them to centres providing care and eventual reunification with families.

Video: Helping former child soldiers in Kpandroma, DR Congo
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Related Links:
Former child soldiers in Liberia now aim for sports glory

Former child soldiers in DR Congo reclaim their lost childhood



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