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Real legacy of Arab Spring is 'dramatic' rise in child soldiers, according to UN

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The London-based campaign group warns that militias in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen have enlisted children into their ranks and that legislation designed to protect them has failed. It is pushing for the creation of an international reparations body which can hold to account those guilty of training and using child soldiers.

Its latest report accuses other states of recruiting and transporting children on behalf of allies and providing weapons. It cites accounts of how children were brought from Sudan to fight in Yemen.

The report also claims that children abducted by Isil in Iraq were transferred to Syria and then sold to armed group.

Spokeswoman Emmy Aisha said: “Over the last decade, the phenomenon of child soldiers has changed. Prior to the Arab Spring, the use of minors was largely limited or contained in localised conflicts as we saw in Rwanda and Sudan.

“This is no longer the case. Young people are being taken from their families in one country, either under the pretext of securing a better life or are being adducted.

“They are then subjected to brutal and inhuman training, before being deployed in other countries as part of armed militias. We see examples of this Syria, Yemen and Libya…

Legally children are prohibited from taking any part in war, yet estimates suggest there are somewhere between 100,000 to 250,000 children and young people being used as combatants or auxiliaries and the problem is getting worse.”

The report, The Case for Child Soldier Reparations, recommends that the victims are compensated and that tough action is taken against those responsible for their recruitment and use. It makes the case for either the expansion and remit of the International Criminal Court or the creation of a new body which would focus on supporting child soldiers.

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern praised the report, saying: “The terrible extent of the present danger to children worldwide makes this a timely contribution to an approach to a problem for all of us who love the world’s children.”



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