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Shadrack

In 1993, Burundi’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in a coup d’état. Melchior Ndadaye, of the majority Hutu ethnic group, had sought during his three months in office to ease tensions between Hutu and the minority Tutsi, which had ruled Burundi for decades and continued to dominate the army. In response, Hutu paramilitary groups formed, and as quid pro quo attacks between Hutu and Tutsi escalated, Burundi spiraled into civil war.Among the many victims of the war were children. Indignant over Ndadaye’s death and the denial of political power the Hutu believed their due, extremist factions exhorted teenagers and even younger children to join their ranks, and for more than a decade, thousands of children lived in Burundi’s forests in deplorable conditions, raiding villages, camps, and military installations, both suffering and committing horrific violence. Many were girls kept as sexual slaves for older soldiers. Shadrack joined the FNL rebellion after the army came to his village and killed a number of his relatives and neighbours, he was 13 years old. Shadrack tells of his experience as a child soldier and how he came to leave the rebellion.  

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David Ninteretse

In 1993, Burundi’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in a coup d’état. Melchior Ndadaye, of the majority Hutu ethnic group, had sought during his three months in office to ease tensions between Hutu and the minority Tutsi, which had ruled Burundi for decades and continued to dominate the army. In response, Hutu paramilitary groups formed, and as quid pro quo attacks between Hutu and Tutsi escalated, Burundi spiraled into civil war.Among the many victims of the war were children. Indignant over Ndadaye’s death and the denial of political power the Hutu believed their due, extremist factions exhorted teenagers and even younger children to join their ranks, and for more than a decade, thousands of children lived in Burundi’s forests in deplorable conditions, raiding villages, camps, and military installations, both suffering and committing horrific violence. Many were girls kept as sexual slaves for older soldiers David became involved in the Burundi Democratic Youth when he was 15 years old. After the coup in 1993, he became a Hutu child soldier, David tells of the hunger and abuse he faced as a child soldier as he was forced to walk barefoot for days with little food and water. David tells of his experience as a child soldier, his attempts to gain an education to become a political leader, and his retirement.

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Habtu

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Habtu was taken to Sawa training camp in 2010. There he was forced to cook the soldier’s meals and was subjected to physical abuse daily.

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Kidane

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Kidane was 16 years old when he was sent for military training at Sawa. After training he was forced to work in farming and construction, until he was able to flee the country in 2012.

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Dawit B

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Dawit was 15 years old when he was taken to Sawa for military training. After finishing training he was able to escape back home and live in hiding. However, in 2010 when he tried to flee the country, he was caught and imprisoned for over a year.

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Hiwot

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Hiwot was taken to a military training camp when she was 17 years old. She was subjected to starvation, rape and beatings for six months until her parents came looking for her and brought documentation to prove she was not yet 18.

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Luwam

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  In 2007, like other adolescents in the Northeast African country of Eritrea, Luwam Estifanos was taken to Sawa, a military camp near the Sudanese border. Luwam was forced to get up 5.30am, run for two hours before sunrise, followed by 12 hours of weapons training, marching and cleaning. She recalls how girls were forced to engage in the same activities as boys however they are also subjected to sexual assault. Luwam was finally able to escape in 2010, making a 12-hour trek through the desert into Sudan. After a year in Sudan, Luwam travelled to Uganda and following one refusal and months of waiting, was eventually granted asylum in Norway with the rest of her family.

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Tonton

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.  Tonton’s family were living in poverty when he joined the militia thinking he would have a better life. However, he found only suffering.

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Dieudonne

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.  Dieudonne was taken from his home in Burundi by militia forces and taken to the Congo to fight. Dieudonne was forced to cook and fight for the militia, he tells of how his best friend was killed while fighting.

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Byaombe

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.  Byaombe tells of his experience of being a child soldier for the FDD militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He tells of how he was taught to kill, how he was given drugs and how there was little food or shelter at the military camp.  

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Madeleine

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.    Madeleine was abducted by militia in her village in the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was 12 years old. She tells of how she was taught to kill, how she was given drugs and alcohol to numb their feelings. Madeleine was a child soldier for two years before she was rescued.  

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John B

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have seperated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adeqaute rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.    John was abducted at nine years old when militia attacked his village. He was forced to become a child soldier.  John was beaten each time he tried to escape. He finally managed to escape 3 weeks ago (2012) to a UN military base before dawn. It had been 6 years. Now he is at a transition centre for child soldiers. 

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Aung Ko Htway

Within Myanmar, some military personnel, civilian brokers, border guard officials and ethnic armed group continue to recruit or use child solders. In some cases, recruiters use deception, offering incentives or coercing children or their families through false promises about working conditions, salary, and promotion opportunities. While Human Rights Watch have noted that there is no way to precisely estimate the number of children in Burma's army, and while there is an ongoing process to end the forced recruitment of underaged children, there remain numerous accounts proving that the use of child soldiers continues among the 500,000 troops in the country.    Aung Ko Htway was abducted when he was a teenager and forced to serve in the Myanmar army for nearly 10 years. 

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Saw Htoo

Within Burma, some military personnel, civilian brokers, border guard officials and ethnic armed group continue to recruit or use child solders. In some cases, recruiters use deception, offering incentives or coercing children or their families through false promises about working conditions, salary, and promotion opportunities. While Human Rights Watch have noted that there is no way to precisely estimate the number of children in Burma's army, and while there is an ongoing process to end the forced recruitment of underaged children, there remain numerous accounts proving that the use of child soldiers continues among the 500,000 troops in the country.  Saw Htoo, 16 years old, was forced to join the Dkba army as a child soldier. Not wanting to fight against his own people, Saw Htoo defected and is now in the care of the Karen National Union.

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Moe

Within Burma, some military personnel, civilian brokers, border guard officials and ethnic armed group continue to recruit or use child solders. In some cases, recruiters use deception, offering incentives or coercing children or their families through false promises about working conditions, salary, and promotion opportunities. While Human Rights Watch have noted that there is no way to precisely estimate the number of children in Burma's army, and while there is an ongoing process to end the forced recruitment of underaged children, there remain numerous accounts proving that the use of child soldiers continues among the 500,000 troops in the country.    Moe, 19 years old, was arrested by soldiers at his home in Burma and forced to fight for them under the threat of death. Moe was only able to escape when he and his friend Si Thus killed the major and fled, running for ten days to Thailand.  

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Ameen

The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted from approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaves population. The issue of child soldiers remains a problem across the region. South Sudan has been experiencing a civil war since 2013 and it is estimated that round 19,000 children are serving in the ranks of armed forces and militia groups in the country. Young children, mostly young boys, are forced to abduct, rape and kill members of their own community under threats to their own lives. While continued international pressure has led to the freeing of over 200 child soldiers in April, 2018, the number of children forced to fight continues to grow due to ongoing aggression in the region.    Ameen, 17 years old, told Human Rights Watch about what happened to him after he was captured by Olony’s forces outside the UN base in September 2014 

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David

The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted from approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaves population. The issue of child soldiers remains a problem across the region. South Sudan has been experiencing a civil war since 2013 and it is estimated that round 19,000 children are serving in the ranks of armed forces and militia groups in the country. Young children, mostly young boys, are forced to abduct, rape and kill members of their own community under threats to their own lives. While continued international pressure has led to the freeing of over 200 child soldiers in April 2018, the number of children forced to fight continues to grow due to ongoing aggression in the region. David was captured and forced to fight for rebels in South Sudan at the age of 16 years old.

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John

The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted from approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaves population. The issue of child soldiers remains a problem across the region.South Sudan has been experiencing a civil war since 2013 and it is estimated that round 19,000 children are serving in the ranks of armed forces and militia groups in the country. Young children, mostly young boys, are forced to abduct, rape and kill members of their own community under threats to their own lives. While continued international pressure has led to the freeing of over 200 child soldiers in April, 2018, the number of children forced to fight continues to grow due to ongoing aggression in the region. John was recruited as a child soldier by rebels in South Sudan when he was 16 years old

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Su Thet Htoo

There are an estimated 575,000 people living in modern slavery in Myanmar (Burma). It is a country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and for women and children subjected to sex trafficking, both in Myanmar and abroad. It is also increasingly a destination and transit country for foreign victims, including women and girls from India. Some Burmese men, women, and children who migrate for work abroad—particularly to Thailand and China, as well as other countries in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States—are subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking. Men are subjected to forced labor abroad in fishing, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, and construction, while women and girls are primarily subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, or forced labor in garment manufacturingAfter four and a half months of training, Su Thet Htoo was sent to work as a guard on the frontline in Karen state, where there have long been insurgents. He was finally freed after campaigning by his mother. The Burmese Army agreed to stop using child soldiers in 2012, but there are signs that this has not stopped completely, and armed ethnic groups still recruit both men and boys through intimidation, coercion, threats, and violence. In addition to formally recruiting at least two children into its ranks in 2016, the military may have continued to use children for labor or other support roles. Some ethnic armed groups abduct or recruit children—including from internally displaced persons’ camps—for use as soldiers in fighting against the Burmese army.