JULY – OCTOBER 2019: STUDY, CHILD SOLDIERS IN CENTRAL AFRICA
This study was implemented from July to October 2019 in the East, the far north and the Anglophone part of Cameroon and targets 25 groups of 50 children from Nigeria, Chad, CAR, Angola, DRC and Cameroon made of children refugees, children who have belonged to armed groups and former bomb-carrying children radicalised by boko haram: The average age of the target group is 17 years old.
One of the first observation of that study demonstrates, that more than 50% of the population in Nigeria, Chad, CAR, Angola, DRC and Cameroon conflict or post-conflict zones consists of children younger than 18 years old. Consequently, one of the reasons for employing child soldiers is that “they are viewed as expendable, replaceable” – and they are cheap to maintain. They are also psychologically more vulnerable than many adults, who already have a more shaped personality. Since younger children, in particular, can lack a sense of fear, they might be preferred over adults because they accept more dangerous tasks without scrutinising them. Children’s and adolescents’ identities are still being formed, meaning that they can be more easily influenced and controlled, since they are dependent on protection and guidance.
A total of 54 percent of the children reports having killed someone, and 28 percent reports that they were forced to engage in sexual contact. 35 percent of the interviewed children had developed a fully developed posttraumatic stress disorder, a debilitating mental health disorder
According to the study, The most common traumatic life events of those who had been abducted were: forced to skin, chop or cook dead bodies (8%), forced to eat human flesh (8%), forced to loot property and burn houses (48%), forced to abduct other children (30%), forced to kill someone (36%), forced to beat, injure or mutilate someone (38%), causing serious injury or death to somebody else (44%), severe human suffering, such as carrying heavy loads or being deprived of food (100%), given birth to a child in captivity (33% of girls), threatened to be killed (93%), seeing people with mutilations and dead bodies (78%), sexual assault (45%), assault with a weapon (77%) and physical assault including kicked, beaten, burnt (90%).