CHILDREN CAN BE SOLDIERS?
Unfortunately, yes. Tens of thousands of children every year are affected; mostly boys, but up to 40% of them are girls. Many are kidnapped and forced to fight, while others sign up because they are desperate for food or a roof over their heads. Some terrorist organisations, like Islamic State, use child soldiers, but some countries’ armies will often sign up children, too.
In Yemen, children as young as 11 have been recruited. Children who take part in war may feel the psychological effects decades later. As well as being deprived of a family life and an education, child soldiers often will have to do and see horrific things. Increasingly, children are being used as suicide bombers in conflicts around the world, too.
Although much has been done to reduce the numbers of child soldiers, experts say that the changing nature of conflict means that it is hard to keep track of the many small groups that are recruiting children to fight. Girls who used to be soldiers take part in a numeracy and literacy class in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo