Friday, August 17, 2007

The Problem of Child Soldiers

A previous Immigrant of the Day, Ishmael Beah has written a powerful memior, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007), which powerfully depicts the sadness and tragedy of a child soldier forcibly recruited to fight for the government in Sierra Leone's civil war.  In 1991, a civil war overtook Sierra Leone. His parents and two brothers were killed; at the age of 13, he was pressed into service as a child soldier. He fought for almost three years before being rescued by UNICEF. In 1998, Beah fled Sierra Leone to New York City and lived in a foster home. In New York City, Beah attended the United Nations International School. After high school, he graduated from Oberlin  and currently works for the Human Rights Watch Children’s Division Advisory Committee.

Unfortunately, the conscription is children is not an isolated problem.  And Ishmael beah, as he admits, was lucky to be a survive the war; many of his childhood friends did not.  Human Rights Watch has interviewed child soldiers in countries including Angola, Burma, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda.  For much information about child soldiers, including reports, click here.


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