The Child Soldier

Today, about a 120,000 children or probably more under the ages 18 with some no more than 7 or 8 years of age are currently participating in various armed conflicts all across Africa, with most of them not really understanding the war for what it really is, but of what their commanders are telling them to think. Brainwashing young minds can be as easy as everyone thinks. Angola, Algeria, the DRC, Liberia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda and especially Rwanda are just some nations wasting their youth on senseless wars due to rival political ideals, giving no room for common grounds to stand in.

And because of this war raged own, fighting among themselves. The radical ideas of a powerful few tore the beautiful African landscape apart with terror and chaos that left everything in ruins, with the blood of the innocent non-combatants spilt all over the place.

With the rising costs of waging wars with opposition and the thought of bolstering the ranks of their own militaries, warlords are turning to these young upstarts to do their dirty jobs of killing for them. In the minds of every shrewd and cunning commander, using these “child soldiers” to do their bidding is practical, and cheap.

For every war commanders face the daunting task of building up their armies, and that can be very expensive. Using children to fill in the ranks can prove to be very cheap, and there it was. Plus there is that added bonus that these children can be easily prepared, mentally that is. Clearly they will never become as efficient as real soldiers can ever be, but their mindsets can be easily conditioned to be pointed to where their commanders would want their guns to be pointed at.

Whether everyone likes it or not, there will always be risks when children takes up arms to fight, be it on their own side of the conflict, or to that of their enemies. And everyone everywhere knows that. In addition to the clear and very obvious risks that apply to real adult soldiers on the battlefield, child soldiers are often and will always be at a clear disadvantage as combatants. The immaturity in their thinking leads them to great risks everytime they step into the battlefield, and especially of the field. It may be safe to assume that everywhere they go is a high risk potential particularly if they are carrying their those hideous AK-47 automatic rifles with them. They are just loose cannons with, ready to go off anytime and anywhere. And that makes them very dangerous.

Because they are still young and are considered by their adult counterparts as fresh meat from the grinder, they all have this dangerous attitude of showing everyone that they are strong, capable and fearless to all things, especially with their enemies. And also because they are still too young to understand war, they all think that it’s all just a game. As commanders of various armies perceived them to be very cheap commodities, they only received little or no training at all; and are openly thrust into the battle lines. Training can be expensive; and besides commanders do not rely on them at all in the battlefield, so why spend precious resources just to train them?

If we all look at it this way, those child soldiers are being hammered by both sides in the battlefield. Not only are the other side trying to shut them down, their own side threw them away into the frontlines without proper training. That makes their chances for survival very slim.

And that is also a very hideous way of destroying a child’s future; not only his own soul was destroyed by having to witness and participate in the killings and shooting down innocent non-combatants, they were also made to witness all the horrors that comes with war. They were also made to suffer even inside their own barracks, with very poor living conditions and access to little food and water. In short they were treated as animals. Why should they be treated like real combatants? They’re just cheap. And they die easily.

The truth really hurts but the children in Africa can already be considered as combatants even at a young age of seven. Mostly they would start out as messengers and porters, carrying and distributing ammunition out into the battlefield, or carry food. Some are even being sent out as spies over to enemy lines, which can be very dangerous for them. And in a few years’ time, if they are simply strong enough to handle and fire assault weapons, they will then be used as soldiers.

How many stories have we heard of young children kidnapped away from the love and peace in their homes and made to fight in battles? Children from all over the world are learning how to read, write and play songs, while the unfortunate children of Africa are taught to fire weapons and kill the enemy. All these horrible things imbedded inside their minds will stay there forever; and healing these emotional wounds and scars will then become the biggest challenge in their lives.

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