In July 2003, the ICRC helped the correspondents of "Novaya Gazeta" Sergei Mikhailovich and Victory Ivleva to travel to Africa in order to learn and to tell about the lives of children fighting as adults. The problems of rehabilitation and the return to society of former child soldiers are not only relevant today for the African continent. With the permission of the authors we offer you the articles written on the results of the trip.
Africa. northern Uganda
Today 300 thousand children are at war. In 30 States. In Colombia and Burma, boys are recruited by drug cartels. In Liberia teenagers are fighting on the side of rebels and the government. In Congo they defend their villages and attack the others. In other people's villages also live children. They protect their homes in the same way. In Sri Lanka and southern Lebanon children are becoming terrorists. And in Uganda, they are just stolen.
In Northern Uganda, this has been for 17 years. Ever since then, a young major General Joseph Kony, who looks like Michael Jackson, decided that he should become President. Even Mr. Koni was outraged by the moral fall of the population. Therefore he began to fight for the implementation of the ten commandments, throwing in the village of the severed parts of the children's bodies, wrapped in the pages torn out of the Bible. He declared himself the living voice of the Holy spirit and created the Lord's resistance Army (LRA) of religious fanatics.
But any army needs soldiers. And the soldiers have to be paid, especially when they are fighting not for their own, but for someone else's happiness. The decision was simple-children's army. Children who are separated from their families, who are traditionally accustomed to obedience, intimidated by the "supernatural abilities" of the commander, tied with the blood of relatives and friends. They are ideal soldiers, because they will not ask too many questions. They will grow up and turn into zombies accustomed to raids, murders and robberies. The plan worked.
Kony and his army kidnap young children, enslave them and force them to kill innocent civilians.
It is believed that during the action about 20 thousand children were kidnapped by the LRA. Half could be released. The fate of 10 thousand is still unknown. There are estimates that the army of General Kony is about 2 thousand soldiers, divided into small groups of 25-30 people. In each group there is about half of minor soldiers from 10 to 18 years and plus on 50 and more stolen children.
Children steal other children, because they are made to do it. Besides they were also kidnapped to fight on the side of the mad General. Children do a lot. They are the orderlies, scouts, living mine detectors, punitive and kamikaze. With any duty they cope diligently, because there are only two estimates in this school: alive and dead.
Children and forced to participate in mass murder. Fanatics under leadership of Kony steal children and bring them to the wild.
LRA attacks schools, refugee camps and hospitals, police patrols and buses. Kony's raids forced 800,000 people to leave their villages closer to the cities. They are now displaced and living in special camps. It is unsafe there too. Annoyed General more often attacks those who are trying to escape from him. There is almost no food. UN experts predict a terrible famine: refugees are becoming more and there is less food. And the actions of the army of the mad General become more and more active .
Their military fates are similar. But how did they end up in this clip and what happens to them then?
We try to answer these questions. Today the report is about a kid from Uganda who doesn't remember how many people he killed.
Vincent Okota was kidnapped by rebels when he was only eight years old. Now the boy is 11, but he is so thin that he looks much younger. In the deadly army of Coney Vincent spent three years, however, fortunately, last month he managed to escape. As Ocote was too small to fire a rifle, it was used as a carrier.
However, the child's life was not limited to only relatively peaceful duties. With enviable regularity the kid got on 50 lashes, and then monsters forced the boy to kill civilians. How many people have fallen by his hand, Vincent does not know. However, he said that most of the victims were women. The boy cut out their skulls with a heavy baton. "I beat them until the skull was blown apart and the brain was splashed in all directions. The victims were tied up and forced to lie face down. Then the commander told me:"Take this baton and kill them." I knew if I didn't, I'd be killed." Currently, Vincent is in a rehabilitation center for children-victims of the war in Gulu. Together with him, treatment are still 13 thousand kids who managed to escape from captivity Kony.
Over the past 19 years of war in Africa, soldiers from the army of Kony stole more than 20 thousand children, with more than 10 thousand were abducted only in the last three years. The rebels enslaved the children and trained them to use them in their ranks as soldiers. At present, the rebel ranks have a unique situation: almost the entire army consists of kidnapped children, however, Kony itself continues to kill and lead to a beast-like state more and more kids.
In fact, the prophet's army is a more religious group than a political one. At the same time, Kony claims that he wants to lead Uganda in accordance with the biblical 10 commandments. However, he is the first who contradicts these laws, or rather uses biblical truths for his own purposes. So, Kony has justified bloodshed committed by using cleverly-chosen references to the Bible. However, despite the alleged validity of the acts of the "prophet", he is currently on the international wanted list as a particularly dangerous criminal. However, local tribal and religious leaders are sure that the court will do more harm by threatening even some hope for peace.
Kampala - Gulu - Kitgum