I was only eight or nine years old.
Next they made me the commander of all the small boys in the
rebel army." Such memories are hard for grown men at war but for
emotionally immature children, such scenes scar for life.
Another seven year old who witnessed the murder of his parents
and was taken by the rebels to be trained as another of the
child soldiers in Sierra Leone stated that he would have done
'what he had to do' to survive, but added 'I only want to go to
So, where did these child soldiers in Sierra Leone come from? Many of the
children who were recruited as child soldiers had fled Liberia
during the civil war there and some 80,000 of them were encamped
on the Liberian - Sierra Leone border, frightened and destitute.
Their numbers were swelled by many more children fleeing the
violence in Sierra Leone and together they provided a fertile
recruiting ground; you either enlisted and did as you were told,
or a bullet through your head would teach others that you should
have joined up.
Whilst the exact numbers of child soldiers in
Sierra Leone war remains unknown, at one point the government
forces, let alone the rebels, were comprised by a quarter of
such children under the age of 18 yrs. They were used for
guarding diamond miners, attacking villages, committing
atrocities and sexual exploitation.