Obert, Cy

child soldier

Social structure majorly impacts children’s lives in conflict area. Most often, children’s role in society is parallel to their role during conflict. As an example, the Second Congo War had a militia led by an Africa Thomas Lubanga Dyilo with estimates of 30% of his troops being child soldiers. This can be parallel to the social structure of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which according to the US Department of Labor, has some of the “worst forms of child labor” and is making “No Advancement” to fix these issues. Labor, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the Department of Labor, includes agricultural labor, forced mining, and forced abduction and recruitment into the military; thus, it is no surprise to see children as an integral part in armies.
The Second Congo War was a result of continuing conflicts in Central Africa which eventually led to yet another war. The First Congo War was sparked by genocide as Hutu tribes in Rwanda killed an estimated 100,000 Tutsis (another Rwandan tribe) in a mere 100 days. This led to many refugees fleeing to Congo. Eventually, Congo was involved in the war, as were its children. Government structures were not completely established between the end of the first war and the beginning of the second war; thus, there were really no legal barriers to prevent children from becoming soldiers. And socially, children joined the army with a “kill or be killed” mentality as they had witnessed during the genocide, or they were forced to join. The combination, for military leaders, of no legal body and social acceptance of kids fighting led to a perfect storm of massive enlistment for the war efforts. However, as mentioned in the beginning, this massive enlistment of children in the war is directly parallel to the massive enlistment of children in the work force, which is directly correlated to the existing social structure in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_soldiers_in_the_Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo
http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings/2013TDA/congodemocraticrepublic.pdf
http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/congo-first-and-second-wars-1996-2003
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/thousands-of-children-fight-war-in-congo
http://itdawnedonme.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/child-soldiers-in-the-drc.jpg?w=253&h=300 (picture)

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