Saturday, June 28, 2008

The lives of children in unstable nations

By: Jenny Walters

A recent article posted on entitled Kids’ lives are nightmares in unstable nations, UNICEF reports, focused on the emerging number of child related crimes taking place in unstable nations, such as Haiti.

According to a recent United Nation’s Children’s Fund report: “More than 50 children have been abducted in Haiti since the beginning of the year, adding to a trend of kidnappings in countries affected by violence.”[1]

Children in countries, such as Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq, which are affected by war, food shortages and poverty, have become targets for armed groups who see them as commodities. In Haiti, UNICEF and local officials report that kidnapped children are being rapped, tortured and murdered. Currently, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti is working with the national police force to try to put a stop to such crimes.

In the Dominican Republic as many as 2,000 children a year are trafficked, often with the parents’ support.1 Another 1,000 children are working as spies, messengers or soldiers for armed gangs in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

In Iraq, children have been recruited by militia and insurgent groups. “Girls are increasingly subject to murder, kidnapping and rape, or are being abducted and trafficked within or outside Iraq for sexual exploitation.”1

In the Central African Republic, armed gangs terrorize farms and communities, kidnapping children and holding them ransom.1 Souleimane Garga, in Paoua, told UNICEF, “Bandits broke into his home nearly two years ago and kidnapped his wife, newborn, baby, and two other children, after killing older family members including an uncle and a grandfather.” For two-years, two of his children were held in bush camps, as he was “financially broken” after paying to free his wife and newborn and could not pay the ransom for his other two children. Souleimane’s children are home now, but wake with nightmares and cries remembering what they endured in the bush camps.1

Earlier this month, following the murder of a 16-year-old hostage and the rapping and lynching of other hostages, including infants, a demonstration was held in Haiti’s capital. UNICEF’s Haiti representative stated: “There is no acceptable motive or rationale for these crimes, as there is no acceptable excuse that they should be allowed to continue with flagrant impunity.”1

In July 2006, UNICEF’s report on child soldiers in the nation, reported “as many as 30,000 children may be associated with armed forces or groups as fighters.”1 Of those children, “30 to 40 percent of children associated with armed forces are girls.”

After reading this report, I was almost in tears. The thought that children and families are put through such unimaginable acts, is both disturbing and unsettling. Yet, this type of cruelty takes place in all parts of the world on a daily basis. I look in my daughter’s eyes everyday and could not imagine my world without her.

[1] Kids’ lives are nightmares in unstable nations, UNICEF reports. Available at: Accessed on June 21, 2008.

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