“He should be in school,” said Awil’s commander, Abdisalam Abdillahi. “But there is no school.”
This is a topic I admittedly do not know too much about, so any discussion about it will be academic and speculative. But I have been reading recently about the problem of child soldiers in the U.S.-backed government military in Somalia, where kids as young as 12 have picked up arms to fight. A few months ago I took a 10-day jaunt through Myanmar, which has the most child soldiers in the world (though you would never know it, since most of the country is off-limits to foreigners). There are an estimated 300,000 children fighting in wars throughout the world, and a wide range of circumstances make this possible.
For one thing, countries using child conscripts are usually embroiled in intractable civil wars that never seem to end. Many of these wars began as ideological ethnic or religious conflicts and, over time, morphed into gangs of criminals fighting over control of land and resources. Continue reading