Children need "pens and textbooks, not guns"

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Source: Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

Children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns according to the United Nations which has launched a global campaign called “Children, not soldiers”.

The UN says that around the world, thousands of boys and girls are recruited into government forces and armed opposition groups to serve as combatants or in support roles.

The campaign is pushing for a deadline of 2016 for the recruitment of all children to stop.

Addressing the Security Council, former child soldier Alhaji Babah Sawaneh of Sierra Leone said there was a lot more to do to ensure the protection of children.

"Today there are so many children in desperate need of our help. Children are experiencing violence and conflict. We need to work hard to protect them. When I return to Freetown, I want to continue my work in peacebuilding. It’s partly the security sector. But it’s also about our communities and our government and about finding real opportunities for the future."

Currently, eight Government security forces are listed for the recruitment and use of children.

In the past three years, six of those countries have signed action plans with the UN: They are Afghanistan, Chad, South Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Both Yemen and Sudan have expressed their commitment to child-free security forces, and dialogue with the UN is ongoing.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’29″

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