Forced to Fight, Children Suffer all Their Lives

Forced to Fight, Children Suffer all Their Lives

Child soldiers are both victims and victimizers. They fight in conflict zones around the world - and they never get a chance to have a normal childhood. Red Hand Day aims to shed light on their plight. Bosco was six years old when he was handed a machete by Ugandan rebels led by Joseph Kony.

Forced to Fight, Children Suffer all Their Lives

They demanded he kill his little sister, says psychologist Elisabeth Kaiser. Kaiser and her relief organization, Vivo International, deal with traumatized former child soldiers - some of whom they have treated in Uganda. Bosco has spoken to Kaiser extensively about the moment he killed his sister.

"The commander pointed the barrel of his gun at me and said: 'Cut her and do it quickly!' I thought: 'Please let me die.' Then I heard the rapid fire right over my head. That's the moment when my heart sank and I knew I was going to do it. I raised my arm to haul out, and my sister started to cry. And I started to cry as well and said: 'Please forgive me, Juli. I have to do this.' The commander tapped my shoulder once more.

And I raised my arm and I drove the machete through my sister's neck." Juli was five. She had to die because she couldn't keep up with the rebels' pace as they moved to the next location.

Forced to Fight, Children Suffer all Their Lives

Victimizing the vulnerable The United Nations (UN) estimate some 250,000 children are deployed by armies or armed rebel groups in military conflicts - in almost all conflict areas worldwide.

A recent UN report lists 52 war parties in 23 countries that use children as fighters, spies, messengers and to carry heavy loads, according to Ninja Charbonneau of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said. Reports indicate that child soldiers are being used in Syria as well - fighting for both the government and opposition forces.

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