Tag Archives: Yemen

Obama Still Arms Governments Using Child Soldiers

Washington, DC (HRW) – This week, President Barack Obama announced that four countries that use child soldiers — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan – will continue to receive United States military assistance.


Former child soldiers in DR Congo. Image Source: US Government

The decision is disappointing, particularly since Obama has a powerful tool at his disposal – the Child Soldiers Prevention Act – that allows him to withhold US military aid until governments end their exploitation of children in war. Instead, Obama has invoked “national interest” waivers that will allow these governments to receive over $161 million in US military aid in the coming year.


In Nigeria the child soldier problem is relatively new, as government-allied vigilante groups have recruited children to fight against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Not so for Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan, where child soldiers have long been used by all warring parties. In Somalia, the United Nations documented nearly 200 cases of child recruitment by the Somali National Army and allied militias last year – likely just a fraction of the total number.

In South Sudan, UNICEF estimated this year that as many as 13,000 children have fought in the war there, with both government and opposition forces and their allies. Incredibly, just weeks ago, both sides formally declared they don’t have any child soldiers to release. Although much of US assistance to South Sudan is to monitor the August peace deal, the timing of the waiver is especially unfortunate without a strong policy statement from the US outlining the concrete steps that South Sudan needs to take to end its use of child soldiers and maintain a security relationship with the US.

At the height of Congo’s war in 2003, the UN estimated the country had nearly 30,000 child soldiers. For the past three years, the US has withheld some military assistance from Congo, and the result has been significant progress: the UN documented only two instances of child recruitment by government forces last year. But Congo has not yet fully implemented its plan to end its use of child soldiers, and some Congolese army officers have supported armed groups that use large numbers of child soldiers.


In Yemen, where UNICEF estimates that one in three fighters is younger than 18, Obama has left his options open. Currently, all US aid to Yemen is suspended, but if it resumes, Obama has given Secretary of State John Kerry authority to restart aid that would otherwise be prohibited by the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. This should not happen.

In the five years since the Child Soldiers Prevention Act has been in force, the Obama administration has withheld only a fraction of the military aid flowing to governments with child soldiers and rarely imposed the full sanctions the law proscribes. This sends governments exactly the wrong message: that they can use child soldiers without consequences to their military relationship with the US. This only perpetuates the use and abuse of children in war.

Written by Jo Becker for Human Rights Watch.


35 MILLION Migrants Heading To Europe, As Hungary Builds Second Fence

SHOCK estimates predict up to 35 MILLION refugees could head for Europe due to hugely unstable situations across the world.

by Rob Virtue and Agnes Kegl in Express

Up to 35 million migrants

Migrants seen rioting at the Serbia/Hungary border this week

The huge figure was revealed today by Hungary’s minister for foreign affairs and trade Peter Szijjártó.

Speaking as the country begins work on its second fence to stop migrants heading across its border he predicted the current crisis will continue for years.

Mr Szijjártó told the Hungarian Times: “The name of the fence is ‘Temporary Security Border Fence’ but I think there is no question that in this case temporary means years.

“It’s a self delusion to call this situation a migration crisis; it is a massive migration of nations, with inexhaustible reserves.

“I don’t think that the analysis results, stating that 30-35 million people out there could possibly become migrants, would be an exaggeration.

“Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are all countries with a huge population and an extremely unstable situation.”

The Hungarian government also defended itself from criticism over its fences.

It comes as a ten-year-old migrant boy with a severe lung condition died in Hungary.

His mother and siblings successfully made the journey to Germany but his father stayed behind with the poorly youngster, who was buried on Friday.

The first barrier was put up at its border with Serbia but, after migrants changed their route, they have now begun erecting a 41 kilometre fence at Croatia.

Migrants look to break through to Hungary as that sees them enter the European Union’s Schengen Zone which offers free movement between member countries.

He said: “The recent international political decisions created an unstable situation around Europe that makes sure that the amount of people won’t decrease.

Peter Szijjártó

Peter Szijjártó said estimates of 30-35 million were likely true

“This is why it’s extremely important to protect our borders.

“This issue wasn’t this important until now, so the European Union neglected it a little bit.

“It became clear that – though its the border of Schengen – Greece couldn’t protect the border of the European Union.

“The Hungarian/Serbian border is another border of Schengen. If we want to follow the orders of Schengen, we have to build a physical obstruction, because this 175 km long area is quite easy to cross.

“The European Union just realised what the Schengen border means.

“If we want to keep the freedom of movement in the European Union, we have to protect the outer borders.”