Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone and the author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, has a remarkable story to tell. With incredible honesty and authenticity, he reveals the details of his experience as a child soldier during the civil unrest in Sierra Leone. As a child he was vulnerable to the persuasiveness of the armies, but re-entering civil society was a challenge. I invite you to hear Ishmael Beah’s powerful message on May 10 at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco.
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Mr. Beah’s life was forever changed in 1991 at the outbreak of civil war in Sierra Leone. His parents and two brothers were killed, and he was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF’s help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown.
This is a picture of a 13-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo named Mwindo (not his real name). Like many thousands of children in war-torn countries around the globe, Mwindo was pressed into becoming a child soldier when he was nothing more than a kid. He was taught to use weapons, was given an Uzi to carry and was expected to fight.Today, February 12 is Red Hand DayÃ¢Ž¯a day to support and commemorate children who serve or have served in armed conflict.
Read a field account of the UNICEF-supported programs in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo providing training, guidance and supplies to support the release and rehabilitation of former child soldiers
For the next three days, high-level officials, child advocates and UNICEF experts are meeting in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, for talks on ending one of the most critical issues facing children in Central Africa — forced recruitment into armed groups.
This week’s photo is a stark reminder of the omnipresence of violence throughout the region. While this boy in the Central African Republic (CAR) may just be collecting casings left strewn on the ground of his destroyed village, other children are being collected themselves and made to fight in one of the dozens of conflicts that continue to victimize women and children.