Thursday, October 04, 2007

Child Soldiers in Uganda


Warren brought this youtube video to my attention. Wondering what is going on in Northern Uganda? When will it stop? And for that matter, when will it stop in Darfur, or Burma, or the Democratic Republic of Congo? etc, etc?

4 comments:

Libby said...

The movie, Invisible Children, opens with the quote, "Once one has been to these challenging, terrible places they are strangely drawn back; because there is nothing that can compare to seeing the raw reality of the basic human need for survival; it disgusts and inspires" (Dan Eldon). Fallout Boy's music video draws upon the disturbing situation in Northern Uganda, Sudan and many other African countries where children live in constant fear of being captured by rebel forces and forced to live as child soldiers. Children walk from many miles away each night to sleep crowded together in bus parks because they feel safer there, packed together on the hard ground, than in their own homes. In their homes there is too high of a risk of being captured at night. These children have grown up knowing nothing but this fear as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been at war with the Ugandan government for the past 21 years. In many interviews in the documentary, children recall their brothers and best friends who have been captured, have had limbs cut off or have been killed before their very eyes. This tragedy of children being captured and forced to commit atrocious crimes like their leaders is not only an issue in Uganda, but similarly Sudan, Sierra Leone and many other countries. The Invisible Children campaign is hoping to "transform apathy into activism" and "educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change". The first US response to this crisis was in 2004 when Congress passed the Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act and acknoweldged the LRA as a terrorist organization. More recently the US appointed Tim Shortly as a special envoy to assist in peace talks between the LRA and Ugandan government. Hopefully the US will continue to show their support for peace and aid these countries in diminishing the number of children captured each year.

Adrian said...

The dilemma surrounding child soldiers is horrific. The atrocities these children are forced to witness would bring every one of us to tears. Even worse, these young children are forced to commit such horrific acts themselves. They are forced to steal, mutilate and kill. Their victims may be members of other tribes, members of their own tribes or, and even their own families. Once recruited, they are taken to either the rebel or government camps. The conditions at these camps are terrible. Food is inadequate. They are forced to become the sex slaves of older soldiers, they are told to do unimaginable things, and they are made to fight in brutal battles against opposing forces. This is a very real situation. It is happening today to children between the ages of 7 up to 19. There are said to be around 300 000 children currently involved in armed conflicts. Of these 300 000, most will die, and the rest will be forced to endure lives riddled with torment and fear. Reintegration seems impossible as members of their community’s struggle to forgive them.

The innocence of these children is taken away from them. Their dreams are shattered. They are forced to endure things we never want our children to hear about. You may be asking yourself, what can be done, what can you do for a child whom you do not know, thousands of miles away. You may be telling yourself that their situation does not concern you since you have your problems to deal with. Sadly, those children depend on our voice. They have no way of telling the world about their plight. These children wish for death while we all look eagerly towards the future. The truth is that there is a lot we can do. As one voice, we can stand and demand change. Invisible Children is an organisation established by three young men who intend to initiate change. Uganda, Sierra Leone, Pakistan are nations affected by this horror. We need to do more, for the sake of those who cannot express their desperation.

ElizabethJane said...

I had written a paper on child soldiers in Sri Lanka and I feel that this is very similar. Utilizing children as soldiers is extremely horrible, for obvious reasons. first, its clear that the children are torn away from their families when they are most in need of being nurtured by their mothers and fathers. second, they're having guns placed in their hands at such a young age. when children should be playing with toys and other children.. they're playing with actual guns and killing actual people. Its in our nature to play when we're younger.. and if guns are put in the hands of the children while they're still developing their minds then its quite obvious that they are going to think its fine to kill and use guns later on in life. at such an influential time in their lives that is shaped by everything around them the last thing that they need is to be fighting and killing.

smilekejcc said...

Using child soldiers in Uganda is wrong but I can see how child soldiers exist. In many cases these children are so easily manipulated and convinced to serve in an army, such as the child army in the Holocaust.