Child Soldiers

"I did not want to fight anymore, but if they said to go to the front line, you had to go. We had to walk for days without getting any sleep or food. I was very sad when I had to see my friends die. Within the group, I experienced war, hunger, and cold."

- Mercedes, former child soldier in Colombia

As armed conflict proliferates, an increasing number of children are exposed to the brutalities of war. Boys and girls around the world are recruited to be child soldiers by armed forces and militant groups, both forcibly and voluntarily. Some are tricked into service by manipulative recruiters; others join to escape poverty or discrimination. Still others are abducted from school, the streets, or their homes.

Aside from participating in combat, many are used for sex and as spies, messengers, porters, or servants. They are even ordered to plant and clear land mines. Kids have become the ultimate weapons and targets of 21st Century war.

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