A child soldier is a person under the age of eighteen who is a part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force/group. Today, more than 250,000 child soldiers are taking part in armed conflict. They are present in at least thirty conflicts, and it is estimated that forty percent of the total armed organizations around the globe use child soldiers.
Children are viewed as cheap and expendable labour, easy to manipulate and control. They are used as combatants, messengers, porters and cooks, and for sexual services. Some are abducted or forcibly recruited, while others are driven to join by poverty, abuse, discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. Their presence extends the length and/or severity of conflicts, erodes the fabric of communities and societies, and acts as an ongoing destabilizing force within nations and regions.
The global response to this phenomenon has been largely reactive, focused on the disarmament, rehabilitation, and reintegration of child soldiers. As a result, year after year, the number of child soldiers has failed to subside. Kutoa recognizes that prevention is essential, and sees a need to work with and educate at risk communities. In the month of November, Kutoa will be supporting our partners who are seeking to prevent the use/abuse of children in armed conflict.