Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

in Sierra Leone who were to witness and endure one of the most brutal and savage civil wars in known history.

When rebel forces mounted an insurrection in 1991 it began a civil war that was to last more than a decade, and the lives of ten thousand children would be lost. The rebel forces enlisted children, some as young as seven, to fight under pain of death as child soldiers. "One day we attacked some soldiers from Guinea. I hid behind a tree then I shot him. After I killed him, I took his AK-47 rifle to my boss and said 'look, I have killed a soldier.' Because the man I killed was a sergeant they made me a sergeant in the rebel army.

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 school.'

Child Soldiers in Sierra LeoneSo, 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.



 
 
 
 
 
 


Child Soldiers Sierra Leone

Child Soldiers Sierra Leone

Child Soldiers Sierra Leone

Child Soldiers Sierra Leone

 


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Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

A video documentary exploring the plight of child soldiers in Sierra Leone who were forcibly enlisted by rebel forces into fighting, the background and issues facing the exploitation of child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

 
 


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