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John

2018 (Narrative date)

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

I am being held against my will. I want to escape but the security is tight. They gave me a uniform and a weapon which I don’t know how to use but my hope is to go home.

Since we were captured, we have been treated like slaves. We cook, clean and collect firewood and if we refuse they beat us. They treat us like animals.

 

As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch