It’s quite hard to believe, but ‘they’ are everywhere.
I’ve shot a variety of weapons, mainly at targets and the occasional rabbit. I’m not sure I could to kill a kangaroo, even if I had a permit, though if I were a farmer, perhaps it would be different. (Believe it or not out beloved Kangaroo is as pesky as a rabbit.)
“In Yemen the Houthi armed group increased recruitment of children after overthrowing the government in September 2014; UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has estimated that one-third of all fighters in the country were children. Perhaps most discouragingly, South Sudan has reversed its progress in ending use of child soldiers. As the country plunged back into conflict in December 2013, some army commanders conducted large-scale recruitment of children.” (source)
Luckily for us we were introduced to the greater through Project AK-47 via social media and felt inclined to have a closer look.
“Child soldiers are fighters under the age of 18 used to serve in government forces, opposition rebel groups, and guerrilla armies. They are trained to kill. Small bodies that are not meant to be operating weapons are now mastering the usage of assault rifles (often the AK-47), machetes and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) on the front lines. They are also used as human shields and minesweepers and are sent out to investigate opponent locations during battle.
The reality many of us don’t consider is that if these children are not engaged in warfare they are often used for “combat support.” This includes roles in which children are used as porters, cooks and prostitutes for the older soldiers. In some cases, the child soldiers have to keep other kids “in their place” through gang beatings, rape or worse.” (source)
They exist is some of the places we enjoy visiting the most. They’re out ‘there’ while we’re enjoying that last happy hour mojito with a swizzle stick, sitting under a beach umbrella by the pool. Yes, they are in the Thailand. They are in the Philippines. For us, it’s a little too close to home; not that geographical locality should matter.
This month, we used the little money ($45.12) we made through our philanthropic travel booking program and supported Project AK-47, part of the Advocate Alliance, as a ‘thank you’ for bringing the issue to our doorstep, and of course, because the money goes to good use.
In exchange, they give you a token of who you have helped, in the form of a set of dog tags with the names, ages, and location of the children that have been identified as child soldiers. Its’s a nice touch. While we should never need to expect anything in return it’s a good feeling (it is in our DNA) to have some form of tangible result for our actions.
1. Child soldiers are any children under the age of 18 who are recruited by a state or non-state armed group and used as fighters, cooks, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes.
2. In the last 15 years, the use of child soldiers has spread to almost every region of the world and every armed conflict. Though an exact number is impossible to define, thousands of child soldiers are illegally serving in armed conflict around the world.
3. Some children are under the age of 10 when they are forced to serve.
Two-thirds of states confirm that enrollment of soldiers under the age of 18 should be banned to prohibit forced child soldiers, as well as 16- and 17-year-old armed force volunteers.
4. Children who are poor, displaced from their families, have limited access to education, or live in a combat zone are more likely to be forcibly recruited.
5. Children who are not forced to be soldiers volunteer themselves because they feel societal pressure and are under the impression that volunteering will provide a form of income, food, or security, and willingly join the group.
6. In the last two years, 20 states have been reported to have child soldiers in government, government-affiliated, and non-state armed groups. Additionally, 40 states still have minimum age recruitment requirements under 18 years.
7. Girls make up an estimated 10 to 30 percent of child soldiers used for fighting and other purposes. They are especially vulnerable when it comes to sexual violence.
A few of the countries who have reported the use of child soldiers since 2011 are Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
8. Despite a government agreement in the District of Chad to demobilize the recruitment of child soldiers, there were between 7,000 and 10,000 children under 18 serving in combat and fulfilling other purposes in 2007.
9. The recruitment of child soldiers breaks several human rights laws. Children who have committed crimes as soldiers are looked upon more leniently, crimes committed voluntarily are subject to justice under the international juvenile justice standards.