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Reverien

According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 408,000 people enslaved in Burundi. Amnesty International describes how military leaders have fuelled Burundi’s 10 year armed conflict by recruiting and abducting children. Poverty and years of armed conflict have made it easier for a whole generation of children to be drawn into the armed conflict. The Burundian armed forces as well as Burundian armed political groups1 have all recruited and used child soldiers in a variety of capacities - as porters, informants, “wives” and actual combatants.

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Jean-de-Dieu

According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 408,000 people enslaved in Burundi. Amnesty International describes how military leaders have fuelled Burundi’s 10 year armed conflict by recruiting and abducting children. Poverty and years of armed conflict have made it easier for a whole generation of children to be drawn into the armed conflict. The Burundian armed forces as well as Burundian armed political groups1 have all recruited and used child soldiers in a variety of capacities - as porters, informants, “wives” and actual combatants.

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Christian Kazungu

According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 408,000 people enslaved in Burundi. Amnesty International describes how military leaders have fuelled Burundi’s 10 year armed conflict by recruiting and abducting children. Poverty and years of armed conflict have made it easier for a whole generation of children to be drawn into the armed conflict. The Burundian armed forces as well as Burundian armed political groups1 have all recruited and used child soldiers in a variety of capacities - as porters, informants, “wives” and actual combatants.

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Santino

Santino was ‘redeemed’ (bought out of slavery) by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Zurich-based international human rights organization, in 1999. Along with the three main types of modern slavery (chattel slavery, debt bondage, and contract slavery), war slavery is another form of contemporary bondage. Thousands of women and children were taken into slavery during the decades of Sudan’s civil war, mainly from Northern Bahr El Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains. Slave-taking was revived in 1985 by the National Islamic government of Sudan primarily as a weapon against counterinsurgents in the South, and secondarily a way to reimburse its surrogate soldiers for neutralizing this threat. In 1989 the government created the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), militia trained to raid villages and take people as slaves. PDF recruits were allowed to keep whoever they captured, along with booty of grain and cattle. One study documents 12,000 abductions by name, while NGOs offer estimates ranging from 15,000 to 200,000. The slaves were often moved to large towns in the north on week-long journeys during which the women were repeatedly raped, and then sold to new masters who used them without pay for farming and sexual services. The peace process brought these PDF abductions to an end, but inter-tribal abductions continue in Southern Sudan. In addition, Sudanese children are used by rebel groups in the ongoing conflict in Darfur; Sudanese boys from the country’s eastern Rashaida tribe continue to be trafficked to the Middle East for use as camel jockeys; the rebel organization “Lord’s Resistance Army” has forcibly conscripted children in Southern Sudan for use as combatants in its war against Uganda; and the institution of chattel slavery continues in southern Darfur and southern Kordofan.

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Anywar

Anywar was abducted in 1988 at age 14 to serve as a child soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA was fighting to overthrow Uganda’s secular government. The war in northern Uganda lasted from 1986 until 2006, during which time more than 35,000 boys and girls were enslaved by the LRA. In 1999, Ricky and his friends started Friends of Orphans (FRO), an organization which works to contribute to the empowerment, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, abuductees, child mothers, orphans, and to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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Aida

Aida was recruited as a child soldier by a militia group in the Philippines at the age of 14 and then prevented from leaving. She was engaged in armed conflict for six months, one of hundreds of thousands of children who participate in armies and armed groups in more than 30 countries around the world. The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. Child soldiers also exist in Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, though international law sets 18 as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities. In the Philippines, where three major insurgent groups have fought the Philippine military since the 1960s, there are an estimated 2000 child soldiers. The Communist-oriented New People’s Army, established in 1968, began an intense recruitment of children in the 1990s. By 2000, some 25 percent of new recruits were children, and more than ten percent of its regular combatants are now under 18. Parents volunteer children to serve as combatants and camp guards. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front allows the training of children as young as 12. Parents volunteer their children, seeing it as an observation of Islamic teaching, and Muslim youth organizations recruit students from schools and colleges. The Abu Sayyaf (“Bearer of the Sword”), a Muslim separatist group which appeared in the late 1980s, uses Islamic religion to draw minors into the movement, for use as combatants, human shields, and hostages.

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Abirami

Without parents to care for her, Abirami was forced to live at a relative’s house from a young age, where she suffered abuse and was later prevented from attending school so she could perform domestic duties for the family. She ran away to become a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 13. Although Abirami joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) movement voluntarily, rather than being abducted like many other children, her recruitment at such a young age is against international law and now considered a war crime. Having now left the LTTE, Abirami discusses the possibilities of what she might do next and struggles to imagine her future.

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Vasanthi

Vasanthi became a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 10. She was one of hundreds of thousands of children who participate in armies and armed groups in more than 30 countries around the world. The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. Child soldiers also exist in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, even though international law sets 18 as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities.

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Sabitha-Jayanthi

Sabitha-Jayanthi became a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 13. In Sri Lanka, children as young as nine have been abducted and used in combat by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE used children as soldiers throughout its conflict with the Sri Lankan government, between 1983 and 2002. Children—most aged 14 or 15 and over 40 percent girls—were used for massed frontal attacks in major battles, and some between the ages of 12 and 14 were used to massacre women and children in rural villages. Others were used as human mine detectors, assassins and suicide bombers. A ceasefire was implemented in February 2002, but this didn’t halt the LTTE’s use of child soldiers. In fact, children were more likely to be forcibly recruited: people saw no reason to give their children to the LTTE if they did not perceive themselves at risk by the government, and so the LTTE resorted to abduction. In 1994, one in 19 child recruits was abducted. By 2004, only one in 19 was a volunteer.