From: Evelyn Phillips <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Study Finds 120,000 Child Soldiers In Africa
From: "Amadou Kabir Njie" <email@example.com
Study Finds 120,000 Child Soldiers In Africa
By Jerome Hule, PANA Correspondent. 20 April 1999
NEW YORK, UN (PANA) - A study by a non-governmental group on child soldiers in Africa has reported that more than 120,000 children, including girls, under 18 years, were being used as soldiers in onflict areas of the continent.
The report, by Coalition To Stop The Use Of Child Soldiers, released in New York Monday, named Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Congo (Brazaville), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda as countries where the practice is very noticeable.
Engaged in this practice are both governments and armed opposition groups, though the report explained that the latter were the worse culprit.
While the armed forces of some countries generally force children into the military, some children do volunteer to serve, the report noted.
"In Angola, forced recruitment of youth continues in some suburbs around the capital and throughout the country, especially in the rural areas," the coalition reported.
Besides using children in their armies, the coalition said that governments were also found to be sponsoring armed militias which recruit children into their forces.
The report said Burundi and Congo-Brazaville were sponsoring such militias.
In Uganda, it added, children are forced to join the army to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo where Ugandan soldiers have joined rebels to fight against the govenrment.
According to the report, one of Uganda's rebel groups, the Lord's Resistant Army (LRA) has been abducting girls who are given out as wives to combatants and used in grabbing food from villagers.
The report quoted a 14-year-old girl, who was abducted by the LRA, as saying that girls who refused to serve as wives to the men were killed.
Aside from suffering such pains, the report noted that child soldiers are also made to carry out atrocities, such as executions.
But the report pointed out that most African countries have set 18 years as the minimum for recruitment, with South Africa about to raise their minimum age from 17 to 18.
Exceptions to this are Angola where the government recently reduced the recruitment age to 17, and Uganda which allows children over 13 years to be enlisted, the report stated.
The coalition's report on Afrca is just one of several others it plans to issue on other regions of the world.
The release of the report Monday coincided with the opening of a conference on the use of children as soldiers in Maputo, Mozambique.
The coalition plans to host other regional conferences in the year on the same subject in Latin America, Asia and Europe.
Copyright =A9 1999 Panafrican News Agency. All Rights Reserved.