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.