Chad Child Soldiers

At the height of hostilities there was an estimated seven to ten thousand child soldiers in Chad, shared between rebel groups and the national army itself. Although many of these child soldiers were abducted and forced into the militia, others joined up themselves.

As one twelve year old boy stated "I entered the 'army' by myself. Neither my mother nor father, or anyone else asked me to join.

I saw the situation in which we were living -- it was very hard. I entered the army to deal with the aggression we were suffering in my territory."

The physical dangers to these children are obvious ~ one child accidentally killed himself with a gun he had not been trained to use properly ~ and there have been many reports of child soldiers in Chad being sexually exploited and abused both by soldiers in the armed forces and by rebel groups.

This together with the emotional scars and hardening of outlook during formative years perhaps creates the longest lasting effect. The recruitment of child soldiers in Chad became a necessity for both rebels and government forces simply to have enough numbers to survive.

They served as guards, cooks and fighters with many being used as lookouts on the front lines of the conflict. Some were as young as just eight years old. Their numbers aren't known in detail but are believed to have numbered thousands given that 413 were demobilised in one period of just two months. All had fought for the Front Uni pour le Changement (United Front for Change, FUC) which was particularly active in the north of Chad.

Although there have been some improvements over recent years, according to a report published by the United Nations in 2011 "The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and other armed groups in Chad persists".

This video explores how UNICEF is helping with the demobilisation of child soldiers in Chad and its attempts to reintegrate them back into school and society.


Chad Child Soldiers

Chad Child Soldiers

Chad Child Soldiers

Chad Child Soldiers


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Chad Child Soldiers

However for many, the process is difficult for many of the motivating factors for fighting remain, including intense poverty and no apparent future working on the land.

Many also find it hard to adjust to being just a child when just days, weeks or months before, they had the power of a gun to wield influence over adults around them.

Whilst the Chadian government has stated it no longer supports the use of child soldiers, in reality the army still recruits them from time to time, and few doubt that if there is any resumption of hostilities either internally or against Sudan in particular, the deployment of child soldiers will resume again in Chad on a large scale. They are simply not required at present.


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