Caught in the Crossfire: Child Soldiers in South Sudan Have Few Alternatives
October 10, 2014

(Enough Project) –  In South Sudan, as in many parts of the world engulfed in conflict, youth are growing up in communities that have been torn apart by war. The film The Good Lie, which tells the story of the lost boys and girls of Sudan, vividly portrays their struggles during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). Throughout the war, children were actively conscripted, both voluntarily and by force, into the national army and other armed groups. That legacy of recruiting child soldiers has continued into today’s conflict in South Sudan. South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 was celebrated as the start of a new era – one of freedom, development, and opportunity. In the eight years that followed the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the number of child soldiers steadily declined. According to UNICEF, by late 2012, approximately 4,000 children had returned home. South Sudan has a young population — 72 percent under the age of 30 by World Bank estimates – and many have struggled with few opportunities for education or employment since independence. With the onset of renewed violence in December 2013, the conscription of child soldiers on once again on the rise. The United Nations estimates there are at least 9,000 child soldiers fighting in the current conflict.

 

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Ahead of International Day of the Girl Child, UN urges end to violence against women, girls
October 10, 2014

(UN News Centre) - The United Nations has paid tribute to the almost one billion young and adolescent girls living around the world as many of them continue to face daily challenges to their development and overall diminished potential due to the enduring scourge of gender discrimination and violence. “All over the world, an alarming number of adolescent girls are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated and even murdered,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today in his message marking the third annual International Day of the Girl Child.

 

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Suicide bombings in Yemen kill 67 after premier quits
October 9, 2014

(Reuters) - Suicide bombers targeting Yemen’s powerful Shi’ite Houthi group and an army camp killed at least 67 people in two separate attacks on Thursday, hours after a political crisis forced the new prime minister to step down. At least 47 people were killed, including four children, when a suicide bomber detonated a belt packed with explosives at a Houthi checkpoint in the centre of the capital Sanaa where Houthi supporters were preparing to hold a rally.

 

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ICC set trial date for ‘Terminator’ Congolese warlord
October 9, 2014

(Agence France-Presse) - Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed “The Terminator”, will face trial next year for war crimes including using child soldiers and sex slaves in his rebel army, the International Criminal Court said on Thursday. The Rwandan-born Ntaganda faces 13 war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity for his role in a brutal civil conflict in the DR Congo’s volatile northeast a decade ago. “The Trial Chamber scheduled the opening of the trial on June 2,” the Hague-based ICC said in a statement.

 

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Ntaganda case: Trial to open on 2 June 2015
October 9, 2014

(International Criminal Court) - Today, 9 October 2014, Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) scheduled the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda on 2 June 2015. Mr Ntaganda is accused of 13 counts of war crimes and 5 crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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‘Our youngest martyr yet’ – Isil boasts about death of 10-year-old
October 9, 2014

(The Telegraph) - Fighters from the Islamic State have proudly posted photos of a child who they claim is the youngest person to die while fighting on their side. The 10-year-old boy is named by the Islamists as Abu Ubaidah. A Twitter account run by Isil sympathisers said on October 9 that he was killed, alongside his father, by an American air strike two weeks ago. US aircraft have been carrying out air strikes across Iraq and northern Syria, and the account did not say where he was killed. But the disturbing series of photos posted by the Isil account show a smiling boy wearing a woollen hat and combat fatigues, posing frequently with guns.

 

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Soldiers, servants and farmhands: 10% of world’s children forced to work Children fighting in armies or working as servants, but US labour department report says progress is being made
October 7, 2014

(The Guardian) - Children continue to be trapped in domestic servitude in Venezuela, taken into military service in Eritrea and made to labour in cotton fields in Uzbekistan, as 10% of the world’s children are forced to work. About 40% of countries surveyed are not doing enough to protect children from employment, according to a report released on Tuesday by the US department of labour. The study, which analysed more than 140 countries, showed that 168 million children are made to work. Children are employed in dangerous agricultural work, carpet weaving, stone quarrying, domestic work and scavenging on waste sites. Some are held in bonded labour and forced to serve in armed conflict or help traffic illicit drugs, while others are trafficked for commercial exploitation.

 

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Syria: monitoring the prohibition of child soldiers by Kurdish armed forces
October 7, 2014

(Geneva Call) - Following the signature of the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) last July, 149 child soldiers were demobilized from the armed forces and given the opportunity to join educational centres; two for girls, two for boys. Geneva Call recently conducted a monitoring trip to Syria and visited these centres. Most of the children are between 15 and 17 years old and they are now being given basic education and kept far away from hostilities. A few children returned to their families, but for many, going back to their homes is not seen as an option;armed operations, closed schools, poverty in their families, domestic violence, and their own desire to join the armed forces make a safe and sustainable return unlikely.

 

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South Sudan: children bear brunt of man-made disaster
October 5, 2014

(The Guardian) - Water bottle in hand and rucksack on back, his grey trousers rolled up to reveal spindly legs, 12-year-old Gatwech boarded the first flight of his life. His ear protectors dwarfed his head as he gazed wide-eyed through the window of the Russian-built UN helicopter that lifted into the sky, sweeping over lush plains and thick forests. Gatwech crossed the invisible frontlines separating government and rebel forces in South Sudan’s civil war. Finally, the aircraft came in to land on a ringfenced field in the village of Akobo, deep in opposition territory, and the boy strained to look at the excited crowd waiting under trees. He was about to be reunited with his family for the first time after nine arduous months in a displacement camp.

 

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Obama can do more to get kids off the battlefield
October 4, 2014

(Human Rights Watch) - President Obama has the clout to get child soldiers off the battlefields in countries around the world. But he has been too reluctant to use it. As the fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, he gave some countries a pass to get U.S. military aid—in some cases millions of dollars – that he should have held back until they change their ways. Congress passed a groundbreaking law in 2008 that prohibits the U.S. from giving several forms of military assistance to governments using child soldiers. Its intention was to use a powerful incentive – withholding US military training, funding, and weapons – to influence other governments to stop using children in their military forces.

 

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