May 17, 2007

From Iraq to Nepal, Child Militants Swell the Ranks

Thousands of Iraqi children earn $3 to $7 a day making bombs, cleaning guns and transporting weapons for Shiite and Sunni militias in Baghdad.

The chlorine bombs burn the children and sometimes detonate, but insurgents say they can’t be blamed for something that parents have consented to.

Iraqi parents blame a lack of work, or say their children are threatened if they don’t follow orders.

One father justified sending his sons to make bombs by saying it puts food on the table and helps fight the Americans.

In India, militias are recruiting hundreds of child soldiers to fight rebels along the India-Myanmar border.

They are the first line of defense, loaded with drugs to make them fearless and ready to kill on command — even targeting their families if so ordered.

In Nepal, hopes that an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 Maoist child soldiers would return to school following a peace deal have been dashed for now. Guerrillas refuse to let U.N. monitors inspect their camps for evidence of child soldiers, as was agreed in the peace bargain.

And Reuters reports that the Maoists have continued to recruit child soldiers following the ceasefire.

Sources:

“IRAQ: Poverty drives children to work for armed groups”
IRIN (United Nations), May 10, 2007

“Child soldiers in northeast raise concerns”
NDTV (India), May 5, 2007

“Nepal Maoists urged to free child soldiers”
Reuters, May 8, 2007

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