Time to stop sending children to war
Speaking at the launch of the photographic exhibition "No more Child Soldiers" organised by Concern and Voice, Minister of State, Liz O' Donnell, TD urged a more pro-active response to the issue. Highlighting the need to help children and communities to cope with the ongoing traumas and tensions when the fighting is over, O'Donnell called on world leaders who have been willing to bear the expense of militarisation "not to shrink from the costs of peace, demobilisation and reconciliation" around the world.
O'Donnell, Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights spoke of the plight of an estimated 300,000 children who are part of armed hostilities throughout the world. "Some volunteer to join armed forces in order to survive, some to prove their manhood, some are encouraged by peers or by a culture of violence. Others are kidnapped, press-ganged, conscripted, or coerced to join up".
She said that there were no easy solutions to the problem of the use of children as soldiers. However, the culture of impunity which surrounds child participation in armed conflict needed to be tackled. The best way forward was to point out where the responsibility of this lay "stigmatising those who recruit and use children as soldiers is a vital first step".