More than 50 Groups in Fourteen Countries Recruiting Child Soldiers

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11, 2014 – Parties in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are recruiting children as soldiers.

Those three countries are among the 14 where the United Nations says children are enlisted by armed groups. In at least seven of the countries, government forces are among those recruiting, according to the Office of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, which is calling attention to these violations ahead of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on Feb. 12.

In total, there are more than 50 armed groups listed by the UN as recruiters of child soldiers including nine groups in Sudan, among them the country’s national forces; eight groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo; eight in Myanmar and seven in Central African Republic.

Besides Sudan, the other six countries where national forces recruit children are Afghanistan, with the Afghan National Police listed as a recruiter; Chad, whose army currently has peacekeepers in Mali; as well as government forces in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

In Syria, the Free Syrian Army are listed as a recruiter of child soldiers. While the Syrian government is not listed as recruiting children, its intelligence services and allied Shabbiha militia are listed as perpetrators of grave violations against children including killing and maiming, rape, and attacks against schools and hospitals.

The fourteen countries where children are recruited by armed groups are:

1. Afghanistan
2. Central African Republic
3. Chad
4. Colombia
5. Democratic Republic of the Congo
6. Iraq
7. Mali
8. Myanmar
9. Philippines
10. Somalia
11. South Sudan
12. Sudan
13. Syria
14. Yemen

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: Wikimedia/Gilbert G. Giroud