Okon Emunie, Ph.D1
Aja Akpuru-Aja, Ph.D2
When I think of the five years I spent in the bush, killing people and being shot at, I feel pretty stupid… We were giving our lives for people, who by tomorrow won’t remember how they got where they are – A Child Soldier AWAKE! March. 22,2001 p. 7
I enjoy the bang of the gun… I shot him and he just fell down. –A Child Soldier’s Remarks!
No human can measure the deadly work of guns, or can we tally the dead, the wounded, the bereaved, and the shattered lives. Armament culture within and between states in Africa is presently alarming (Rachel; 22-24). The unchanging attitude towards war in the continent has reproduced deadly consequences. The most disturbing is not just a rejection of peace and conflict resolution for flexibility and stability in the continent. It is not so much also the proliferation of small and light arms than the reproduction of child soldiers, now commonly referred to as children associated with fighting forces (Oxfan: 22). Contrary to international law on the right of the child, and several United Nations special resolutions on the protection of minors most wars in Africa are not fought by trained soldiers, but voluntarily and conscripted children in the age bracket or 1 18 years (Ayissi, A: 1-2). By the logic of modern warfare, children are disoriented from the school system or battle field vocational occupation to violence psychology in the battlefield. Often, child soldiers, including boys and girls, are not only forced to handle small and light arms to kill and to be killed, but forced to loot and mutilate. Small and light arms have made wars quite possible for both child soldiers amateurs and professionals alike.
The term “small arms” refers to rifles, handguns, and weapons which can be handled by one person. The other expression, “light arms” includes machine guns, mortal, and grenade launchers, which sometimes require two or more people to handle. In conflict countries in Africa, Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, child soldiers are the most unfortunate victims (The Economist; 2005: 1 1 – 12). The effects are spiral, including the militarization of the entire society, fuelling organized criminality and the emergence of private security system which muzzle the process of peace and conflict resolution in Africa.
The Focus of Analysis
This work is dedicated specifically to the subject and fate of children in armed conflict and conflict resolution in Africa. This is in recognition of the obvious that none can ignore that children are not just facilitators of wars, but stakeholders in peace and conflict resolution in Africa. Given that protracted wars in Africa endanger the life, liberty and future of the Africa child, greater attention is needed to create more awareness on:
- the sources and recruitment of child soldiers
- Operational deployments of child soldiers in the battlefield.
According to the Michael Review 1996-2000, a child soldier is defined as any child whether boy or girl under the age of eighteen (18) who is compulsorily, forcibly or voluntarily recruited or otherwise used in hostilities by armed forces, paramilitary forces, civil defence units or any other armed groups. Protracted conflict and wars endanger the child all the more as a merchant and instrument of death. Children become the vanquished.
The reproduction of child soldiers runs at variance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 48/157 of 1993, among others. In that resolution, the Security Council frowned strongly at directing the impacts of war on children as unthinkable. Case studies from the Philippines, Iraq, Angola, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Liberia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone reveal a frightening picture of not just children as targets of war, but instruments of war. Either way, children remain the worst victims of modern warfare. Logically, once children are militarized, the society is ultimately militarized (BoriPirseyedi, 2000:71-95).
International Law on “Child Protection since 1996, chapter 12, particularly Optional Protocol to the convention on the Rights of the child on the involvement of children in Armed conflict, prohibits the participation of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict”. For years, international law has been trying to regulate the way wars are fought. By a large body of laws designed to minimize the exposure of children to the harsh realities of war. Many conventions, protocols, characters, charters and declarations exist on the right of the child against involvement in war. It constitutes a major international legal text exclusively on child civilian soldiers.
To the extent that children represent the future generation and the cream of our societies, there is every reason to focus special treatment and protection on them. The irony of fate is that States voluntarily sign and ratify the treaties or conventions on child protection without feeling, strongly under obligation to achieve compliance. The relatively weak and ungoverned world system can do little more than rely on the media, civil society, NGOs and diplomatic pressures to encourage the application of this law.
Today, an interest in peace and conflict resolution that overlooks the general and specific impacts of war on children is incomplete and not structurally helpful. Children should be fundamentally understood and appreciated as stakeholders in peace and conflict resolution, particularly in war endemic countries of the world. In the context, Africa ranks the highest and the worst (Eli, K. and Yankey-W, 2003).
The War Scenario in Sub-Sahara Africa
Africa reproduces the most frightening and destabilizing war outcome Scenario in the whole world. While the general trend of armed conflict in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East fell during the 1989-1999, the 1990s witnessed an unprecedented increase in number of conflicts on the African continent. During this period, 16 United Nations Peacekeeping Missions were sent to Africa such as in Somalia, Angola, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. This period witnessed internal and inter-state violence in a total of 30 sub-Saharan States.
According to Journal of Peace Research,37:5, 1000, in 1999 alone, Africa was plagued by 16 armed conflicts, seven of which were wars with more than 1,000 battle-related deaths (Mullein, S. & Wood C, 2001: MO). In 2000, the situation continued to deteriorate in Africa because of renewed heavy fighting’s between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Angola, Sudan, Uganda (Special Report, 2000: 1-10). Presently, Cote d’Ivoire is boiling with bloodshed involving child soldiers in armed conflict. Child soldiers are the worst victims of war. The West African Sub-Region appears the worst hit in Africa involving child soldiers in war. When (ECOMOG) fought through thick and thin forests to restore flexibility and stability in Liberia in 1997, the Sierra Leonian crisis was already militarizing the entire society (Festus B. A., 1999: Chapters 12& 16).
Indeed, there was a consensus among scholars in war studies, peace and conflict resolution that the level of violence present in Africa today, suggests that the continent has reached a nadir. In 2002, wars across the continent claimed millions, involving women and children. One million more died of malaria and tuberculosis due to unhealthy exposures. The total number of payable adults endangered by HIV/AIDS in the continent is about 23.3 million. The foregoing points to one message. An endless conflict in Africa has not only affected development adversely, but compounded a host of health, environmental, economic, financial and political ills. Emerging research on peace and conflict resolution reveals that among the plethora of conflicts in Africa today, the most intractable wars are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. The war in Cote d’lvoire is still militarizing children (Ibid; ). Meanwhile, ECOMOG had no sustainable success to monitor ceasefires and end wars (Special Report; op.cit: 6). Going by its strategic and tactical disasters in Somalia, 93 and Rwanda, 94 the U.N is a disappointing organisation.
Many experts in peace and conflict resolutions agree that the nagging issues are not just the structural causes of child soldiers; the recruitment mechanisms, the effects on the child, but the future of these child soldiers who now preferred to be addressed as children associated with the fighting soldiers. This touches fundamentally on two-track approaches, involving.
- Disarmament and demobilization of child soldiers.
- post-conflict peace building in the form of (i) rehabilitation and (ii) reintegration of child soldiers.
Understanding the Use of the Child in War
The legacy of conflicts in Africa has caused children untold hardship. It has led to extreme poverty, malnutrition, suffering and violent death. It has also resulted in poor education and health care services. Each of these conditions becomes an even greater risk factor for children due to the proliferation of small and light arms. (Taylor Charles ECOWAS REPORT: 2001). Human rights abusers have often relied on small arms as their weapons of choice to commit crimes and intimidate, Rachel J. Stohl recounts an ugly development in Uganda. A girl was abducted from a hut with six other girls by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 1996, when she was only 10. Taking to Sudan for training, she was the victim and a witness of repeated violations of human rights. All the girls abducted were distributed to rebels as wives. They were trained to strop and assemble guns. They were used to loot riot. Captives who failed to return with enough loot got heavily flogged. Some were killed for failure to obey LRA command. (Rachel Stohl, op.cit: 18).
Children do not only suffer death, physical wounds and loss of homes, but psycho-social trauma due to their exposure to the use of small arms. In Mozambique, children still suffer an enduring trauma. One boy, Jonas, recounted. (Ibid).
(RENAMO Soldiers) Placed my family in the middle of the village and said they would kill all because my father was a teacher. They handed me a bayonet and ordered me to kill my father. 1 did not want to and started to cry……(Oxfam, op.cif.20)
At the age of none (9) Jonas killed his father right in front of his family and neighbours in his own village. Thus, far the guerrillas destroyed the ties with his family and the community. With nowhere else to go, Jonas returned to the guerrillas and served as a RENAMO-Mozambique National Resistance Movement for five years. Jonas boasted:
I was a good soldier, and was afraid of nothing during combat. Alii knew was the death would free me from my nightmares. Life was a nightmare. (Ibid)
One of the interviewed children by Newsweek, Magazine, a boy named ZakariaTuray, described the harrows he experiences now, due to his time with the rebels:
Most time I dream, “I have a gun, I’m firing. I’m killing, cutting, amputating”, he says. I feel afraid, thinking perhaps that these things will happen to me again. (Junior, B. E. &A.Errante,2002:3).
Small arms do not just kill and injure, they also cause massive internal displacement of population. They force children to flee their homes, where children feel insecure in bushes and camps under differing kinds of threats, intimidation, injury; forced prostitution, rape, slavery; and forced recruitment into the armed force. Children have either been militarized or forced out of their homes due largely to the proliferation and misuse of small and light arms.
Stohl argues persuasively that while the use of children as soldiers is not a new trend, the continued dependence on children as combatants is symptomatic of the global proliferation of small and light arms. (Michael Review, 1996-2000; 2) The U.N. estimates that over 300,000 children currently serve as combatants in more than 30 countries around the world, and more than 50 countries actively recruit children into the military forces. (Rachel, op.cit: 21). In Mozambique, RENAMO even preferred children to adult combatants. A RENAMO deserter at age 10 explained that “RENAMO does not use many adults to fight because they are not good fighters… kids have more stamina, and are better at surviving in the bush. They hardly complain, and they follow directions. (Godwill G&I.Cohn, 1994:26).
Researchers note that children are used as soldiers mostly in the areas where arms are in short supply. For example, in the Goma area of Congo, Rwanda backed rebels did not have enough arms for each soldier, so they deployed children unarmed as a diversionary force. The children would be instructed to take sticks and beat them on trees. They tactically drew the fire of the opposition, allowing older, armed combats to attack from a different direction. (Ibid).
The ubiquitous nature of small arms and their easy use have contributed to the perpetration of violence by children. The soldiers seized village after village, recruiting more soldiers, young girls and boys, and killing anyone who stood in opposition, AWAKE Reports that out of 49 major conflicts since 1990, 46 have been fought with light and small weapons. (AWAKE, 2001:7)
Unlike a sword or a spear, which requires skill and strength to use effectively in combat, small arms have made fighting in war possible for both amateurs and professional alike. (AWAKE Ibid). Since the reproduction of child soldiers, there is little compunction about violating traditional rules of war. Vicious attacks of unarmed men, women and children were commonplace. In today’s war, 90% of victims are civilians, mainly women and children. Thus, small arms have crippled war-torn societies politically, socially, economically and environmentally.
Most of the wars in Africa take place in countries, which are by every standard poor to even by buy sophisticated weapons systems. For example, 50 million dollars, which is approximately the cost of a single modem jet fighter, can equip an army with 200,000 assault rifles. In lands with abundant assault rifles, they are sold little as six (6) dollars or can be traded for a goat, a chicken, or a bag of old clothes. Apart from the low cost and wide availability, small arms are commonly demanded because, first, they are lethal or destructive. Second, a single rapid-fire assault rifle can fire hundreds of rounds a minute.
In Congo, Botswana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’lvoire, small and light arms are often battered for diamonds and drugs. (Ibid). Another preferable drive for small arms are that they are rugged and remain operational for years. Riffles such as AK-47 and M16 which soldiers used to fight the Vietnam War between 1954 and 1974 are still used in modem wars. Since 1995, the USA alone has given away more than 300,000 rifles, pistols, machine guns and grenade launchers. In some Africa countries, paramilitary groups have bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of small and light arms, weapons, not with money, but with diamonds seized from diamond mining areas. Sierra Leone ranks highest in recruiting child soldiers in the World. Between 1992-1999, about 4,5000-10,000 children were involved in the factions. (Jacqueline Seek, 1999: 12-15).
- Revolutionary United Front (RUF)
- The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)
- The Civil Defence Force (C.D.F.)
Procedures to Protect Child Soldiers in Africa
The effort to protect the child from armed conflicts or victims of wars is not new. It dates back to the 1949 Geneva conventions, which were designed to protect civilians and children in times of war. In 1989, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted to provide a systematic protection of the rights of the children. The CRC Codifies what those rights are and the legal obligations for states to ensure the rights of the children. The CRC established a standard for the protection of only 15 year of age and not 18. The International LabourOrganisation (ILO) Convention 182 outlaws the worst forms of child labour. Indeed, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted in 1990, sets 18 as the minimum age for recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
The African Charter was rather a stronger standard than the CRC’S. Non-governmental actors, particularly those anxious about peace and conflict resolution have prohibited the use or recruitment of the under age of 18 in armed forces. 109 countries signed the protocols, and ratified by 32. It entered into force on February 12, 2002. (Mark, Malan, 2000: 35-37).
In July 2001, the UN held the UN conference on small arms, intended to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as variants for the reproduction of child soldiers. It is intended to enhance efforts in support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programmes and organized destruction of surplus and illicit weapons. (Rachel, op.cit: 22-24)
Functionally, enforcement of the legal means of protection of the child is the issue. There are no content errors in all the legal provisions and protocols but for the lack of a practical effort or mechanism in pushing the agenda further. There is, yet, to be a functional, practical and sustainable legal framework that will protect children from the preponderance impacts of small and light arms. For instance, a purposeful and well targeted legal framework must have to challenge coordination between families, communities, states, sub-regions, regions, inter-governmental organizations (IGBOs) and NGO.
Agenda setting for reducing the negative effects of small and light arms on the lives of children in Africa will have to incorporate the following:-
- Controlling transfers of small arms:
- Eliminating the use of child soldiers:
- Establisher norms and standards for children and adolescents;
- Strengthening educational and training services;
- Improving health care opportunities;
- Creating safe passage for humanitarian assistance;
- Building awareness of the dangers of small and light weapons;
- Developing demobilization and reintegration programmes, and;
- Countering a cycle or culture of violence.
As ZakariaTuray, the former child soldier from Sierra Le says: Right now, the war is over, but what happened to us should repeat itself without children.3 7 The often dimension for control the abuse of children in armed conflict isto make a sharp break from an unrepentant bad governance to good governance. Unless states in conflict situations confront the socio-political and economic contradictions in their systems, the legal and strategic diploma prescriptions will end up as beautiful paper blueprints. In spite of this assertion, it remains a veritable policy and strategic value to consider the many sidedness to demobilization and reintegration or particularly the former child soldiers.
Lephophotho Mashike, N. Bail, K, Kingma J. Cock, 1 Motumi and P. Macknzie and M. Mokalobe (2000: 64-71) have made very useful contributions on demobilization and reintegration of tilt former soldiers. Their works lack a common model for the demobilization and reintegration process. Arguably, each of them has contributed factors, which make for either success or failure in the whole issues involved. (Ball, N. 1997 & 1998: 21). It is plausible to make a synthesis of tactical and strategic options.
- Politically, these is need to create a stable atmosphere which! encourages confidence building measures, where there is no inferiority-superiority of the vanquish and victor. It includes | security measures designed to enlighten the people that there | is more loss than the target should be primarily the warring factions and fractions. (Kingma K, 199 1998:15-17).
- There should be security measures specifically designed to demobilize and reconcile the former soldiers and none should be seen hero but history. This calls for a concerted effort to build an institutional culture which shall include all armed adult forces to build a new national civil defence force. The barracks soldiers must have to be well cared for, and kept very preoccupied with training and drilling to guard against frustrations.
- The early warning signals of relative peace and stability should be used to motivate soldiers to hand in their weapons for a well-articulated programme of resettlement, creative life
styles and orientation towards a new civilian life. (Ibid).
- The need is therefore a clearly define and well settled courses of action on the resettlement of the former soldiers, such as determining who and who go to the barracks, orientation camps, communities and families (where applicable). This is because, the end of a war holds the spectre of more frustration, helplessness and helplessness arising from guilt feelings, loss of family ties, loss of homes and businesses, and how self-esteem.
- Psychological counseling and vocational training should be in place to integrate child soldiers, including the disabled ones.
Reintegration is another policy prescription. It takes both quantitative and qualitative processes. The whole construct is designed to further the capacity building of each ex-combatant, internally displaced population, and the disabled to see creativity and productive as real and possible. (Ibid). The commonest quantitative means are cash payments, vocational training, formal education, and support for job seeking, access to land, credit, technical assistance and identifying market needs.
Qualitative means are socio-psychological in context. Ex-combatant are passed through the difficult and complex processes of reuniting with families and community ties. Ball recounts that in Mozambique, some ex-combatants spend a lot of cash payments on gifts to village elders as part of social security. Most ex-soldiers had to go through Cleansing rituals in order to appease the gods and society to be accepted.
From Mozambique, Rwanda, Angola, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and even South Africa, the odds against the quantitative and qualitative processes of reintegration are many. For example, many ex-combatants suffer great dependence on short-term cash or gratuities, which often lead to the temptation of arms trade in riffles for a living. (Lephophotho M, op.cit: 65). It is problem of lacking dependable fallback position, and it could lead to a sustainable violent psychology or anomic behaviours in the society. (Eric G. B, 2001: 9-11). This observation confirms the study of Kingma who maintains that demobilization and reintegration a process is not a teaparty. The process is characterized by setbacks and successes.46 No matter how well intended the reintegration process a number of ex combatants are too pessimistic and stunted in competition with the vocational skills on the ground in the society. J. Cork recounts a cast of one respondent:
After completing my motor mechanics training, I decided to open up my business…
I literally did not have customers. I am now unemployed…
(Kingdom, op.cit: 28-30)
Another study revealed that the respondent threatened to shoot his family members every time he was upset,
The situation is worse when he is drunk.
He threatens to shoot all those
he suspects of hating him in the
community. People complain almost
every weekend about him…
They resent him. (Eric G. B. op. cit:)
As previously noted, the value of reintegration process may be laudable through, but sustainable success is a sub-structural process. The productive base must be resourceful and assuring. The lack of economic resources and equitable distribution systems available to former soldiers may create some strains and stresses in their communities and family ties. Kingma remarks that at the end of the war, former soldiers often return as heroes, but if the heroes cannot provide materially, they may soon lose self-esteem and be viewed as losers who are a burden on the family and relatives.
Commercialization of Seized Weapons
In Sierra Leone, RUF seized weapons from ECOMOG. The Nigerian contingents lost significant quantities of small arms and ammunitions in pitched battles as the rebels advanced in Freetown. (Ibid: 9). ECOMOG lost also small arms on occasion from ambushes after RUF had been driven from the capital. There were allegations that ECOMOG troops sold their weapons to wrong hands, which got into children. According to a senior RUF rebel, his men received anus and ammunition from Nigerian ECOMOG troops in exchange for cash, diamonds, food and medicine. The Guineans were the first U.N. contingent to lose their weapons. The Kenyan battalions were twice ambushed in January, 2000. On May 2, the peacekeepers who went to secure the release of detained Zambians in Makeni were rather detained and disarmed. The Indian contingent also lost weapons to RUF in May, 2000. (Musah A. F, 2000:109).
Though disarmament and reintegration programme (DDR) made a significant progress in seizure of weapons from the factions and fractions, most of the weapons were not destroyed. Working parts were removed and separated, but many of the weapons such as AK-47s could be easily reassembled, allowing complete interchangeability of parts. (African News Service, 1999). The payment of a stipend to those who returned their weapons was discouraging. The safety allowance for returning a weapon was $300, while a person could seek a grenade for US $300. Report had it that Guineans bought a number of weapons from Sierra Leonians. Moreover, by falling to ensure that individuals handing in weapons were actually, combatants, the number of combatants’ was inflated, suggesting that progress was being made when, in fact, it was not.
End of War And Child Soldiers As Stakeholders
End of War in Africa often leads to high crime wave. More so, ineffective disarmament and demobilization of the fighting soldiers still have guns in the hands of battered soldiers, boys and girls, refugees and criminals. Military type assent rifles were often used to settle emotional differences effect robberies and other crimes. The knowledge that criminals are armed and dangerous create terror and insecurity. The persistent task remains a continuous search for alternative means to violence against children and society.
- A careful study of the positive and negative experiences of children should be a pre-condition to design very specific programmes of action for rehabilitation, reconciliation and social reintegration. This is of particular value because of the physical, emotional and mental needs older child soldiers who had spent considerable time with the military and would find it a dilemma reintegrating with existing or non-existing families.
- Child soldiers are stakeholders in peace and conflict resolution, and should be encouraged to participate in any debate or exercise towards demobilization, disarmament and reintegration. They can suggest a far-reaching mechanisms or means for changing attitudes towards armament and violence to love and peace for all. Brett and McCallin held this view, and supported by Olara, A. Otunnu in his October 1, 1999, report to the UN General Assembly.
- There should be a periodic assessment of the needs and conditions of both boys and girls, and all encounters with child soldiers should be reported.
Strengthening International Coalition on Child Soldiers
- Coalition of powers within the U.N. framework in the spirit of war against global terrorism will assist conflict regions like Africa cope with the nagging and ugly dehumanization of children as soldiers. Unless the international community rises up to this challenge, words on paper cannot save the endangered children and women in armed conflicts. This is additionally important for providing sustainable funds needed for the DDR Programme, (Ibid).
- There is need for an effective enforcement of collection, registration, destruction and disposal of all conventional weapons ammunitions retrieved from the combatants during the disarmament process
Strict Border Control against Illicit arms Trade/Smuggling
- Strict border control should no longer be taken for granted or trivialized. This means, of course concerted efforts by sub-regional states, which are particularly prone to armed conflicts. It would go a long way in controlling high influx of small and light arms, which often promote the culture of violence. Arms provide power. Maoist notion that “power grows from the barrel of gun”. Poorly equipped fighters in Africa and elsewhere can more easily be persuaded to stop making war a habit.
Involvement of Commanders of Child Soldiers
- Children are armed because their commanders encourage and protect them. Disarming child soldiers effectively must elicit the wholesome cooperation and coordination of commanders to both government and rebel forces.
Community Based Peace Building
- Community based model of disarmament and reintegration is imperative. (Eric, G. B. op.cit: 9-13). Elders and community leaders know their children and live with them and can reach their hearts. Chiefdom elders can provide information and persuasion which can more easily facilitate the demobilization and re-absorption of child soldiers. The priority will be to collect and destroy openly and publicly all weapons and ammunition as quickly as possible
Women as Peace Builders
- To the extent that women are more traumatized by the anguish of child soldiers, peace and conflict resolution must build home of effective demobilization and reintegration on women. Since women contributed to fighting, smuggling small and light weapons among other things, they too can contribute to the demilitarization in several ways. (Ibid).
- Given the influence and moral authority of African mothers, they can prevail on their sons through appeals, petting and persuasion to surrender their weapons, demobilize and come home.
- Women can act as good neighbourhood watchdogs for weapons that have been smuggled into the communities or hidden by combatants. Being at home and in their communities most of the time, women are an asset for detecting and reporting unknown travelers of evil intent or those most inclined to resort to violence in settling differences in opinions or sentiment. This is a role women can play with significant success because of their persuasive and expressive nature. By so doing, women can assist in a large way to transform the culture of violence into a culture of peace.
The African child is reproduced either as a child soldier or a refugee. On the latter, there is no established international legal framework for treatment of child refugees. Hence, there is no legal effect to the campaign against the fate of the African child. The implication is that for children who escape death in the battlefield run higher risk of death in refugee camps, due largely to hunger, starvation; unhealthy shelter and exposure to unwholesome death threatening environment. In the war in the Congo Republic about 1,000 people are killed every day in spite of all efforts being made to stop it. few are shot or hacked, 98% of this alarming figure die of hunger or disease. This provides a clue on Congo’s woeful healthcare system.
Good governance still lacks in Africa. Majority of Africans are more oppressive and regressive than the colonial masters. Bad governance causes conflict; deepens and expands internal and interstate contradictions. Bad governance creates no wealth and employment, but promotes conflicts and wars. The Congolese believe that the state had ceased to function. When soldiers are not paid and many are unemployed, faced by the threat of starvation, the logical outcome is the invasion of neighbours to kill and loot. For others, the choice is to form or join rebel or separatist forces. The several of this negative trend will help the African child. There is no alternative to good governance. African leaders should use the African Union framework to promote good governance. It is the podium for peace, security, development and the future of the African child.
The African child is as precious as the American child or the European child. From the lessons, controlling the reproduction of more determined terrorists in future, the international coalition forces and donor agencies should develop practical help strategies to end the reproduction of child soldiers in Africa. A child soldier without protection or help may grow up more militant and terrorist. Both the local people and their African leaders should have a rethink, knowing that over the years, wars have no development variables, for the region, but destructive of human capital development. The future of the African child depends on today’s security reforms in Africa. Just as the U.S. champions the crusade against the scourge of terrorism and HIV/AIDS, she should extend the same to the protection of the African child, by means of high politics and strategy against African leaders or groups, who make war to seem natural to Africa, and at any rate as a normal business.
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AWAKE! March 22,2001,
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