300,000 Child-Soldiers Fighting in 36 Wars

ROME, MARCH 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Regular armies and paramilitary groups are using 300,000 children in 36 wars, the Holy See’s missionary agency Fides reports.

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Used in “forgotten conflicts,” to quote John Paul II’s words today, the children suffer “a double scandalous aggression: They are both victims and at the same time protagonists of war, engulfing them in the hatred of adults.”

“Deprived of everything, they see their future menaced by a nightmare that is difficult to dispel,” the Pope said, appealing to Christians to help these little ones.

The data published by Fides cover children ages 7 to 17. The youngsters are obliged to kill in dozens of nations, particularly in Colombia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Somalia, Burundi and Congo. The latter reportedly has some 150,000 child-soldiers.

Some of these children “are used as the most brutal and inhuman means to open a safe way in mined areas,” Fides reported. “Walking in front of the troops, with their death the children eliminate the danger for those coming behind them.”

According to a U.N. report, over the past decade, 2 million children have died in wars and 4 million have been severely disabled.

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