Of all the horrifying aspects of war, one of the worst is the use of child soldiers which has become a regular occurrence in conflicts around the world. There are currently an estimated 250,000 child soldiers worldwide. Boys and girls as young as 10 on the front lines, carrying weapons, killing and maiming.
Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire was first confronted with the use of child soldiers when he was the head of the UN Mission during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Since then, in addition to sitting on the Canadian Senate, he has made it his mission to end the use of child soldiers.
They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children is an in-depth look at child soldiers, why they are used, how they are used and how to care for them after they have left the conflict. There is no easy to way to put a stop to this.
This is a hard book to read but it is also a necessary book. Young children are being stolen from their families and communities, brainwashed and drugged, and sent off to fight. Most adults have trouble dealing emotionally with the atrocities of war, imagine how a child fares. 40 per cent of child soldiers are female and sexual abuse is prevalent. Becoming a child soldier is rarely a choice.
As I mentioned this book is a tough read, but it is a good one. The book includes a fictional account of a child soldier and the peacekeeper who encounters them. Through this we are given a real understanding of what the child goes through and how it affects everyone, not just them. The book is educational but not academic or boring. This is an issue that will not go away on its own, nor will it be easily solved but it is something that we all need to open our eyes to and Dallaire will do that for you.
I also highly recommend Romeo Dallaire's book Shake Hands With the Devil for an in depth look at the Rwandan Genocide.