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AU supports taking strong stand against child soldiers in Africa

ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua) -- The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) has held a ministerial meeting on issues related to children fighting adult wars.

Chaired by Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the AU Peace and Security Council Ministerial Meeting on Thursday deliberated on two agenda, one on free movement of people and goods in Africa, and secondly, on protection of children from conflicts, particularly the issue of child soldiers.

In her opening remarks, Mushikiwabo noted that a significant size of the population in many African conflicts consists of children.

"Studies have estimated that 40 percent of all child soldiers globally, are active on the African continent," said Mushikiwabo:

"This is a situation that is unacceptable! Our children should be in schools and not on frontlines fighting wars."

The child soldiers issue is an immense problem that the AU Peace and Security Council should discuss and propose methods to address it, she said.

The issue of protection of children from conflict situations in our continent, especially the issue of child soldiers, need to be emphasized in achieving the AU’s goal of silencing the guns by 2020, said Admore Kambudzi, AU Director for Peace and Security, in his opening remarks of the meeting.

Having chaired the meeting, the Rwandan Minister told the press that they have held engaging discussions on the two topics with several presentations.

The meeting has also heard from retired Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, founder of Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, who is leading in terms of advocacy, in terms of research and training in the area of elimination of the scourge of children participating in wars in different forms, said Mushikiwabo.

"The second subject which was discussed this afternoon was looking at the matter of child soldiers in Africa, on the continent, and figuring out together how we contribute to eradicating the scourge of child soldiers in Africa, especially looking at the objective of this organization (AU) to silence the gun by the year 2020," said Mushikiwabo.

The meeting has underlined the need to take very strong stand against child soldier in Africa, with the involvement of regional and continental institutions to address the problem, according to Mushikiwabo.

"On the matter of getting rid of child soldiers on the continent, we agreed that we should, as a continent, first and foremost, take a very, very strong stand against child soldiers, that our African Union should be involved in not just deterring but also investigating both state and non-state actors that are tolerant or engage in recruitment of children in times of war," said Mushikiwabo.

"We also agreed that some of the continental institutions should be involved in facilitating that eradication of the use of child soldiers," she added.



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