Thousands of children, as young as nine, are fighting in wars and conflicts around the world that they neither know their roots nor the fruits – if any – that will be harvested if such wars come to an end. These young boys and girls are spread across the world, from Latin America to Asia, from Europe to Africa.The problem is mostly critical in Africa. Armed conflict in countries like Sudan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have all seen the forceful use of children as soldiers.
In the war-torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, children bear the brunt of constant conflict, disease and death, not only as victims; they are also forced participants in atrocities and egregious crimes that can and does inflict lifelong physical and psychological harm to them. The recruitment of child soldiers in the DRC has been on the increase and the central African nation is reported to have one of the world's largest numbers of child soldiers.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide has come to be known as one of the darkest periods in the history of the world. Fifteen years later the Rwandan government is still dealing with the legacy of the appalling accounts. The plight for justice is not an easy one; reconciliation must accompany it ultimately for genuine peace. Genocide laws were passed categorising criminals into four main groups.
A two-decade war in Northern Uganda, which started in the early 1980s left thousands of people mutilated, hundreds of women and children raped and an estimated four hundred thousand people homeless. The war, which ended in 2006 after on and off talks between the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) guerilla group and the Ugandan government, mostly affected young children who were not only displaced from school but also swept into treacherous streets and terraces where most of them spent their nights.
According to the UN Children’s Fund’s annual State of the World’s Children report, Sierra Leone is the worst place in the world for a child to be born. Of every 1,000 children born in the West African nation each year, 262 will die before age five, and 2,100 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births are recorded. Life in the country, which emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002, is underlined by daily struggles under intricate circumstances.
Dingy dwelling, moribund health care system, lack of proper sanitation, insecurity, impoverishment and diseases are just but a few of a cocktail of challenges that most Internally Displaced Persons, commonly referred to as IDPs, have to live through, mostly in camps. This was the case in some parts of Kenya when the country found itself having descended into social unrest prompted by election discrepancies and catapulted by a political impasse.
The post-election violence that rocked Kenya back in 2007 and early 2008 left a trail of destruction that will remain to haunt most Kenyans for years and even decades to come. Thousands died while hundreds of thousands were displaced. Now commonly known as IDP’s and living in dingy tents with zero amenities against hundreds, Kenya’s internally displaced persons are still in a major quandary as they find themselves refugees in their own nation.
Sudan's longest civil war began in 1983, largely pitting the Muslim north against the Christian and Animist south. Known as the Sudanese Second Civil War, at least 2 million people are believed to have been killed, while a further 4 million displaced by the 21-year long war. The civilian death toll is one of the highest of any war since the 1939-1945 global military conflict, World War II.
Traditionally, Somali women have been known to play a passive role in both family and public spheres with little or no freedom given to them in decision-making. However, civil wars that started in the country in 1991 marked a transition for the women.
Post-genocide Rwanda has seen many factions rally towards giving support to the country. It is hard to ignore the 27 million dollars set aside by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to help resettle Rwandan refugees in their homeland. That translates to about 15.2 billion Rwandan francs. The majority of the programs that have been implemented seek to rehabilitate the nation.
In 1994 an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered over the course of nearly one-hundred days largely by two Hutu Militia following the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu,