Children recruited to 'join army' at an alarming rate in West/Central Africa
West and Central Africa has recorded the highest number of children recruited into conflict of any region in the world, and the number is growing, the U.N. children's agency has said.
In a report on Tuesday, UNICEF has said that West and Central Africa had the highest number of children recruited and used by armed forces and armed groups involving more than 42,000 children between 2005 and 2020.
The report says that children are used as fighters as well as messengers, spies, cooks, cleaners, guards and porters by armed groups from Mali to Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Over this same period, the region also ranks first – and worst – when it comes to numbers of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed against children, with more than 8,000 violations,” said Karin Heissler, UNICEF regional chief of child protection in West and Central Africa. She was speaking at a UN briefing in Geneva on violations against children in armed conflict.
Heissler said the two African regions ranked second-highest worldwide in abductions with 4,800 cases and said the incidents are increasing.
In one particularly egregious case, Burkina Faso's government said that a
massacre in which more than 130 people were killed in June had been
carried out mostly by children between the ages of 12 and 14.