The involvement of children in conflict and crime in Africa has received massive attention from every quarter of the world. Continuous fighting and lack of peace in many African nations has seen millions of children recruited to join military groups, a move which has not only captured the attention of world leaders but also described as a violation of children’s rights. Ranging from the Rwanda genocide across the Mozambique fighting, Congo wars and the current unstable Somali land, children have always found themselves on the side being used and misused with forced military involvement and recruitment. Why should ten years old be given a gun to kill others? Why should children be denied their rights to enjoy life, go to school and be part of the army of economic development in many unstable African countries which have continued to lag in economic progress? What is the need of fighting? It is obvious and logically that war and peace cannot be compared in terms of their benefits. In single research has revealed the advantages of war especially where peace beckons everyday in the minds of majority and for human benefits. This research paper focuses on the involvement of children in warfare in Africa. To achieve this objective, special emphasis and coverage is laid on some of the factors which contribute to the involvement of children in fighting, its effects and possible measures which have been put in place to protect children who continue too be more vulnerable to wars in Africa.
There are several factors which contribute to the involvement of children in fighting in African countries. Some of these factors have been in existence for decades whereas others have been propagated by African leaders. The first contributor towards child recruitment into military groups for war is poverty. Being the poorest Continent in the world, African children are more susceptible to this scourge than other group of people in the world. Many African families especially from unstable countries live below the world poverty line. This implies that means of earning daily income for sustenance is not possible. Children, most of which are from large families look for alternative sources of income and opportunities to alleviate their living standards. With high hopes of earning a better living, many children consider military involvement as an appropriate way of surviving. Poverty also makes it impossible for children to attend schools and institutions of higher learning to better their lives. Their absence in school ate a tender age renders them vulnerable to being used as soldiers.
It has also been found that the participation of children in warfare has never been their choice. Innocent African children are forced into military groups and recruitment without their consent nor conscience. In total sincerity, they join warfare without their understanding and find themselves killing other innocent people in the name of defense. Some governments and rebel groups in fighting countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somali and Southern Sudan consider children as a source of cheap labor and readily available. Unlike mature people who understand their rights, children are force into military action by being kidnapped or misinformed on exact activities that await them after recruitment. This exposes children to countless risks most of which affect children throughout their lives.
According to the “In-Depth: Child soldiers” report on Africa, effects of children involvement in military activities in African countries has always been the basis of condemning it (In-Depth: Child soldiers: AFRICA). How many children survive in war? It is painful to note that most of the innocent children who join military groups for fighting lose their precious lives immediately without any enjoyment. Reports from research reveal that millions of children have died in many African nations because of their forceful military recruitment. Although they are usually considered as vehicles of violence, they meet death sooner before they lived to become champions of peace in their countries and beyond borders. Are young girls also involved in military activities? Many African girls from fighting countries become victims of inhumanity through sexual abuse and brutal treatment. Thousands of girls have been raped, mutilated and murdered in cold blood in the name of fighting. It is important to note that even though death is not the ultimate destiny for children in warfare, a few who survive nurse permanent effects throughout their lives. They get serious injuries and disease infection, the worst being HIV and AIDS. Above all, recruitment of children in military conflicts is a violation of human rights.
Based on countless effects of employing children as soldiers, it is fundamentally important to do all that it takes and calls for curb, control and eliminate this inhuman, unfair and painful way of misusing innocent children who have visions of transformation and leadership dreams. There are various approaches which have considered and applied in dealing with issue. The United Nations has in particular been on the fore front in protecting the rights of children not only in Africa but all over the world. The adoption of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of children Child has been viewed as a major milestone in protecting children against being misused since its adoption in 1989. There are laws in every nation which strongly condemn the use of children in military conflicts.
As note by Sloth-Nielsen 2008, the issue of child soldiering remains an unsolved problem in the world. Indeed the involvement of children as soldiers is one of the greatest acts of human Rights violation. Despite factors which contribute to it like poverty, there is every need for every person in the world to purpose protecting the rights of children. It is a collective responsibility that calls for the young, youth and elderly for effectiveness. However, every government has the biggest role of protecting every member of the society with special attention to children, the most vulnerable to societal crimes.