The Rise of Child Soldiers in Africa

A child soldier

Written by Jolene

October 5, 2020

Child soldier is a world practice of using children in ethically and politically related violence. They are seen as cheap and easy to maintain and consider disposable. The menace of child soldiers has crippled many lives of the upcoming generation of kids. The government’s failure and inability to secure the life of the masses and the most vulnerable in Northeast Nigeria has led to a rampant increase of child soldiers in the region.

Child soldiers are being coerced and brainwashed into believing they are fighting for uprightness, prestige, revenge and many other false cooked up lies by this sect in places like central Africa, People Democratic of Congo, Maiduguri in Northeastern Nigeria, and Somali.

The notorious Boko Haram is known for its massive child soldier recruitment. They also use them as a human shield. This sect maimed, killed, or use as child solders 12,850 children between January 2013 to December 2016 in Northeast Nigeria according to UNICEF.

More than 3,500 children most of whom were aged 13-17 were recruited by armed militias group between 2013 and 2017 and have been used in ongoing armed conflict in north northeast Nigeria according to UNICEF. The exact data for child solder may not be known as a result of much-unregistered birth. But it is a known fact that a lot of these child soldiers are concentrated in Central and North Africa. According to the UN, 18,000 child combatants have been recruited in the past four years in South Sudan. Most are still fighting at the war front.

Youth children in the northeast are constantly living in danger of abduction as they bear the burden of this conflict since its uprising. These children are used in combat and non-combat roles in this conflict where they’re exposed and involved in all kinds of atrocities. Their life and development have been cut short by this war as they continue to pay dearly with their lives as many of them get killed while fighting with a more experienced enemy resulting in their early deaths or gory injuries.

The conservative image of the child soldier is a teen or youth who was abducted by an adult brainwashed into fragile yet stone-cold killers alongside human shield. Their rights have been constantly abused again and again. Women, boys, and girls are the most vulnerable among other victims. Since the rise of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria as they are known to more often than not involve women and children in their series of attacks. The recent one was the execution of a 22 years old Ropvil Daciya Dalep a student of the University of Maiduguri by a boy believed to be underage. He was executed on 20th January after his abduction on 9th January 2020.

Talking about the emotional effect on its victims, these children have little or no access to the mental health care they need. Reintegration programs are put in place to help these children have a shot at life as over 7000 children are in the reintegration program of UNICEF according to Ibrahim Cesay, the agency senior child protector specialist.

Read: Combating the Menace of Girl Child Marriage in Nigeria

The recent fifth anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in the country’s northeastern Chibok town is a constant reminder of how porous our security system is, and how much we need to push the necessary authority to act fast in securing the safety of women and children in the northeast region. At least 100 of the girls remain in captivity and in addition to these children, 432 children were killed and maimed, 180 were abducted, and 43 girls were sexually abused in north-east Nigeria in 2018. It is time the government wakes up to its responsibilities and puts an end to these barbaric acts.

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