Every year, June the 20th marks World Refugee Day. As people across the globe appreciate the strengths and hope of refugees, I am Somebody’s Child Soldier (IamSCS) wants to illustrate the situation of refugees in Uganda where an average of 2000 individuals have been fleeing to everyday for nearly a year.
Girls’ and women’s experiences within fighting forces and groups
When a conflict erupts, a number of girls and women are abducted to perform tasks for fighting forces or groups while others join the armed opposition as an opportunity to meet their basic needs and as means of protection. Moreover, in an armed-conflict society, girls and women are exposed to more violence, especially sexual violence than boys and men. Northern Uganda, where the war against the civilian population began in 1986, was no exception. Girls and young women were abducted, especially during 1993 and 1994 when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) gained power as an offered sanctuary by the government of Sudan.
When participating in a war, children are denied their rights in various ways; they are abused, neglected, deprived of education and healthcare and, in some cases, forced to witness the killing of innocent civilians and loved ones. In response to this worrying situation, international law has been taking action in favour of those rights since the late 1980s. This blog concentrates on the body of law and policy that has been most influential in protecting the rights of children associated with armed forces and groups.
IamSCS works in Uganda where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was founded 30 years ago. This armed rebellion – which has been widespread in East Africa – has killed at least 100,000 people, has driven 2.5 million people from their homes, and has forced 100,000 children to fight or act as porters, cooks, messengers, informants, spies or even as ‘wives’ of rebels. These children have emerged as central figures of this war as they constituted 90 per cent of the LRA’s soldiers. Worldwide, 300,000 children are estimated to be active in armed groups. Although we can refer to a “child soldier” as any person below the age of 18 who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, the more accurate term to describe these individuals is Children Associated with Armed Forces And Groups (CAAFAG), since not all of them are used as soldiers. This blog presents their profiles.
In African communities, individuals suffering from mental illness are often thought of as posing a risk of violent behaviour, which indicates that they are victims of discrimination, misconceptions and stereotypes.
As a result, people affected fear to talk about their mental health issues and to seek out proper treatment. More often, members of their communities deny them their right to treatment, as was discussed in our blog “Mental illness as an enormous disease burden in African societies”.
Through our Blog Series, we present the difficult environment in which former child soldiers live. In addition to this challenging setting, the population have had to survive through at least seven civil wars since the early 1980s. The first civil war killed a million people and injured 600,000 others. At the end of the war in 1986, Museveni from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) became the President.
At I am Somebody’s Child Soldier (IamSCS), we make sure that our actions directly benefit those in need. Thanks to our on-going support, the children at Laroo ADRA School and the 30 women of the group ‘Can Rwede Peke’ are coping little by little with their mental illnesses. All the more, they are trying to build a brighter future for themselves.
As we’ve already started to highlight in our Blog Series and as we’ll continue to describe the situation there, Uganda is characterised by poverty, inequality, a high prevalence of food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and other diseases and, especially, mental illness due to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) movement which began in 1987.
Internationally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that mental disorders account for thirty per cent of all non-fatal diseases and ten per cent of the overall disease burden that includes death and disability.
New website means new blog series!
At I am Somebody’s Child Soldier (IamSCS), a lot of new and exciting things are happening! 2017 is a great year for us as we launch our new website and our two main projects: the Women Returnees campaign and the Laroo ADRA campaign. Both of the projects that we present on the charity website are not only helping those in need, but are also assisting IamSCS to make the required changes and to take action to reach the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that all charities, institutions and governments are working towards.
Author: rina Nazarkina / Posted Mar 15, 2016
In this post I am going to tell you everything you need to know about child soldiers. Firstly, who can be called a child?
The legal definition of ‘a child’, according to The Human Rights Act of 2008, is ‘a child’ is anyone who has not reached the age of 18. The age of child soldier can vary and some child soldiers are as young as 6 years old. There is no way that a child psychology is fully developed at young stages, which increases a chance of mental illness.