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UN calls for more support to end child recruitment


New York (UNA-OIC) � On February 12, which marks the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the United Nations asked for more support to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts.

According to UN, the global commitment to end the use of children in armed conflict led to the release and reintegration of more than 5,000 children in 2017, but tens of thousands of boys and girls are still being recruited, kidnapped, and forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces at alarming rates".

Children can only be freed from armed groups and forces through a comprehensive reintegration process, including medical and psycho-social support, as well as educational programs and training, UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said Monday said on Monday.

Without a strong political and financial commitment to the reintegration process, re-recruitment is unfortunately likely to happen in many conflict situations, Ms. Gamba added.

Despite progress, boys and girls continue to be recruited, kidnapped, forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces. The recruitment and use of children happened in all 20 country situations covered by the mandate entrusted to Ms. Gamba and her office, UN News reported.

Meanwhile, the United Nations University (UNU) has been collaborating with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Luxembourg and Switzerland, to examine whether the international community's approach to this scourge is effective, or requires adjustments. The goal is to use the empirical findings of the research to inform programmatic guidance for actors in the field and to effectively disengage children from armed groups.

In their report, titled "Cradled by Conflict: Child Involvement with Armed Groups in Contemporary Conflict", researchers suggest that most children do not so much opt into conflict as grow into it.

The report found that conflict structures the information the children see and the choices they make. It pulls and pushes them in many directions. Conflict erodes their relationships, exacerbates their needs and exposes them to untold risks. Conflict shapes their identity and heightens their need to find meaning in their lives.

Ultimately, the forces of conflict narrow the paths available to children, and tragically, for many, lead to exploitation, violence, and trauma.

The report proposes five principles for more effective international efforts to prevent and respond to child recruitment and use by armed groups. These include avoiding programs focused primarily on ideological factors; incorporating ideological components only where individually necessary and where they can be embedded into larger, holistic efforts to address the needs and risks of children; ensuring all interventions are empirically based; rigorously assessing interventions over the long term; and engaging children not just as beneficiaries, but as partners.

The International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers was initiated in 2002 when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict entered into force on February 12, 2002. This protocol, which sets the minimum age for recruitment into armed forces in conflict at 18, has been ratified by 167 countries.

Source: International Islamic News Agency


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