Say No to Child Soldiers!
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 38 [summarized] – Children under the age of 16 years should not take a direct part in any conflict.
The birth of a child usually comes with a cry from the newborn. As the child cries out, acclimatizing to a new environment outside of the comfort of the mother’s womb, the sound of this cry brings joyful warmth to those present at the birth. Its delight further spreads to all who hear the sound, and when the news extends to friends and family, they are equally elated that a child has been born. A newborn baby signals bright hope, continuity and a future for any society.
Consequently, every child has certain rights for the preservation of our humanity, which include the right to life, food, shelter, education, and more importantly, protection and freedom from war.
However, 40% of armed forces (which includes armies, militias, terrorist organizations and resistance forces) in the world use children. Estimates suggest we have over 300,000 children who are directly involved in armed conflict in war-torn cities. Regardless of the fact that 167 countries have now ratified the UN International treaty which bans the conscription of children under the age of 18 from getting involved in armed conflict, 14 Member States still enlist children into their militaries. Children as young as 8 are mandated and taught to fight in a combat they should have nothing to do with. This totally discounts Article 38 of the UN Child Rights Act which states that children under the age of 16 cannot be forced to go into the army or take part in war. Uppermost on the list of countries that forcefully enlist child soldiers are Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The horrible effect of children forced to take up arms, some of which are the same height as the children themselves is astronomically disturbing. How does a child recover from being forced to become an instrument of a war, after passing through strenuous battlefield training sessions reserved for only adults who are in the military?
No child should be compelled to kill and be killed. No child should be used as an expression of hatred and no child’s childhood should be seized by arms of war.
Each of us has a collective responsibility in protecting our children all around the world, thereby securing a safer future. Children who end up victims and refugees have a right to be welcomed, supported and accepted into the new societies and communities that receive them.
As we celebrate Children’s Day come May 27th, let us say NO to child soldiers in our different countries and join forces with the InnerCity Mission for Children to protect the rights of every child.