Former Lt.-Gen. and senator Romeo Dallaire says Canada is in a position to lead when it comes to child soldiers like Omar Khadr.
"People forget the resilience; [refugees] are human beings that have survived."
As the world's youngest country, South Sudan, marks the third year of a vicious civil war, I am learning the heart-wrenching stories of some of the 200,000 civilians who have sought shelter in UN-protected camps. I'm here to learn about the impact of the conflict, especially on children.
In our data driven world, numbers are key in terms of conveying the size of a problem or the intensity that we should pay attention to it. However, many of the world's most intractable problems continue to defy any systemic approaches to be easily counted. This is particularly accurate when assessing the effects of war on children.
Some 31,000 women are currently pregnant inside the Islamic State. These children born out of conflict will form the future ranks of the group. School curriculum is being altered and reshaped to support extremism and strict adherence to the Islamic State's view of religion and philosophy. Children are desensitized to violence and trained for combat from an early age. This presents a complex, yet vitally important, challenge for any nations engaged with the Islamic State.
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In a film that makes such a poignant case about valuing the perspectives of those seldom considered (children in general and children caught in the midst of conflict in particular), it appears to fail at achieving just that -- for Africans.
World Vision Canada
Every day we witness the power of young people to transform their communities and the world. The potential lost when a child is handed an AK-47 instead of a schoolbook or soccer ball is one of the greatest tragedies imaginable. But as governments stop recruiting children, over the past year militias and terror groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, have horrifyingly indoctrinated thousands more. And the way these militias use their children is changing in terrifying ways.
Today's conflicts are smaller in scale than the world wars on which we normally focus come Remembrance Day. But tragically, so are many of the soldiers. There are some 250,000 child soldiers in the world today, mostly in Africa. Children the age of my school-aged sons are shoved headlong into a hell that's unimaginable for most adults, let alone a child.
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In the Luo language, John Lacambel says, "Hello! This is Lacambel here at 102 Mega FM. It is Thursday and the time is now 10 p.m. This is Come Back Home." During the height of the 20-year-long brutal war with the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Lacambel was broadcasting Come Back Home up to three times a week to counter LRA propaganda. During the height of the 20-year-long brutal war with the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Lacambel was broadcasting Come Back Home up to three times a week to counter LRA propaganda.
The day before "The Good Lie," his breakout Hollywood film, celebrated its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sudanese child soldier-turned-rapper-turned-actor Emmanuel Jal cas...
Some of our ultimate values as a civilization have swirled around children. They have prompted our drive towards education, health, training and opportunity. What does it say about us, then, that we are willing to accept the increasing death of millions of children in conflicts in which they have had no responsibility?
This November we must also remember those child soldiers lost in battle. However, children rarely enter the conversation in this manner on Remembrance Day -- they are forgotten. The UN estimates that 250,000 children, boys and girls, are currently being used as child soldiers, we will never know how many of them have been killed or lost in battles.
General Romeo Dallaire was meeting with two child soldiers, Serge and Ajefi (age 16). Both had just escaped their armed rebel groups. Dallaire told them that during the Rwandan Genocide, "I faced one kid, who had an AK-47 stuffed nearly up my nose. And in his huge eyes, there was anger and horror and fear, and excitement."
Because I work for the aid and develpment agency World Vision, we've always had the World Vision Gift Catalogue around the house. You might have seen it? You choose a specific gift for a family in a poor community overseas, and give it in honour of someone you love or admire.
"But all my friends have them!" implored by 11-year-old son Derrick, arguing once again for the purchase of M-rated video games (for "Mature"). How do I explain that there are children all around the world who don't play games like these -- their actual lives read like an ESRB warning?
Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children humanizes the global struggle to end the use of children in armed conflict. Pushing aside the morass of international norms and NGO reports -- important and useful as they are -- Dallaire asks a simple yet harrowing question: how is it that we can go "apeshit" -- to use his word -- when our own children's rights are violated, but passively accept the reality of child soldiers throughout the world?
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A single question struck General Roméo Dallaire when he stared down the barrel of that AK-47. Nearly 20 years later, it’s a question that haunts him as much as it keeps him breathing. How do I get tha...
Roméo Dallaire declared: "I need a haircut." We had heard that just down the street was a barber shop where the young man cutting hair was a former child soldier. He turned in his weapons, trading a machete (or panga) for scissors, and learned a new trade: "I used to be forced to cut limbs; now I cut hair."
More than 250,000 children under 18 are involved in at least 17 conflicts around the world today. In 2008 Romeo Dallaire, now a Canadian Senator, founded the Child Soldiers Initiative to raise awareness, pressure world governments to take action, and train police and military forces from around the world to protect children and prevent them from being recruited as soldiers.
New efforts are being made to return Omar Khadr to Canada. There had been a diplomatic agreement (not a legal one) that he would be returned, but the Canadian government has yet to respect it, despite urgings from American officials. Why the delay? As a Canadian citizen, a minor, and a child soldier, Omar Khadr deserved better from his country.
Hollywood has immortalized underage soldiers in countless films. Contemporary warfare is still fuelled by "the brave young men and women overseas." Tragically, children in war zones are neither romantic nor relegated to the past. We should confront the hard truth: some recruits have no choice.