Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Child soldiers: Reintegrating child soldiers in Chad

A regional conference on the recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups will take place 7-9 June in N'Djamena, Chad -- organized by UNICEF and the Government of Chad to seek international commitments on ending the use of child soldiers and better providing for their re-integration and care. Here is a related story.

N'DJAMENA, Chad, 28 May 2010 -- For Dowa Samna, 19, working at a garage in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, is a far cry from his former life in the armed forces. The former child soldier recalls that conditions in the military were rough. "We did not eat regular meals," he says, "and we had to share everything."

Dowa joined the Chadian National Army when he was 16 but was demobilized a year later when the authorities discovered his true age.

Decades of conflict in Chad have left children like Dowa vulnerable to recruitment by armed forces and rebel groups. There are an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 child soldiers in the country.

But there is reason for hope. Dowa's release from the army followed a 2007 agreement between UNICEF and the Government of Chad to intensify efforts aimed at getting children out of armed groups and forces and back into society.

This accord, in turn, followed Chad's signed commitment to the Paris Principles, an international agreement to stop the recruitment of children in combatant and non-combatant roles.

See also Sydney Irresistible and Mike Hitchen Unleashed
Putting principles before profits