January 22, 2009 â In response to the new United Nations report “Children in Armed Conflict”, Plan Canada urges the Security Council to do more than simply debate the issue when it meets in New York in a special session on February 12. Urgent action is needed to defuse a ticking time bomb of traumatized and alienated child soldiers, often kidnapped by armed groups and brainwashed to become brutal killers.
“These children face even more hardships when they return home,” said Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO Plan Canada. “Not only do they have to live with the stigma of what they’ve done, but they have to deal with communities and even family members that are often terrified of them.”
The Secretary General’s report (published January 30) highlights conflicts in countries such as Uganda, Sudan, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone and others â all countries where Plan works.Â Findings include:
child victims of conflict â both girls and boys – endure unimaginable experiences that leave them traumatized and vulnerable to further abuse;
children in refuge camps are at particular risk of abduction, as well as rape and other forms of physical and mental abuse;
not enough is being done to give former child soldiers real hope for the future;
the systematic and deliberate attacks on schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings have escalated in certain countries.
Plan Canada calls on the international community to provide additional funding for projects to help former child soldiers reintegrate into society. More must also be done to protect children from abduction by armed groups. Solutions require real actions. Plan has now moved into three provinces in Northern Uganda to rebuild communities destroyed after 20 years of vicious civil war. In addition to rebuilding basic infrastructure, Plan’s work also focuses on conflict resolution and the reintegration of child soldiers and abducted girls back into society.
“Even a simple thing like training a young person to drive a truck gives them hope that they can once again become a valuable part of their community, ” said McCarney.Â
Rosemary McCarney has traveled to Northern Uganda and to Sudan, including Darfur, and can provide valuable insight into the plight of child soldiers and their communities.
Plan Canada is an international child-centered development agency that operates in 66 countries across the world, with no political or religious affiliations.Please visit the website at www.plancanada.ca/sponsorachild