Right now, people’s minds are focused on their wallets with news of falling markets, foreclosures and rising unemployment filling the papers. But another, less reported fallout of the global recession is that more children are being tempted to fight in wars, attracted by the large sums of money being offered by recruiters.
A recent report about child soldiers in Colombia says that children are being enticed into battle at an increasingly alarming rate with the promise of money that would be impossible to achieve on the street or through legitimate employment. Paul Martin, a United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Colombia, said regarding the armed groups, “They’re going to keep offering a million pesos to children who live and struggle more each day from the crisis and each day are more likely to accept those offers.” And:
Aid agencies say the FARC guerrilla force is stepping up forced recruitment of children to fill ranks sapped by a string of military defeats and scores of desertions. Children as young as 10 are used as informants or to transport arms and are later trained as fighters.
Last year, the government estimated more than 8,000 children are fighting in the forty-year old war.
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported in their Global Report in 2008:
Children were both forcible and voluntarily recruited and used by the two armed opposition groups, the FARC and the ELN. They were used as combatants, to lay mines and explosives and to carry out other military tasks. Girls were subjected to sexual abuse, including rape and forced abortion… Government forces used captured and surrendered child soldiers to gather intelligence on opposition forces.