Chad conference focuses on difficulty of child soldiers

They work as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, a likely 300,000-strong army of children caught up in more than 30 conflicts across the world. A three-day conference on the employment and use of child soldiers in the capital city of Chad set to wrap up on Wednesday identified a lack of education, poverty, forced displacement and porous borders as major contributing factors to the problem.

"Children living in poverty, those that are victims of abuse, those living in combat zones or with limited access to education are the most likely to become child soldiers," revealed Michele Falavinga, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad.

"Recruited voluntarily or by force, child soldiers (boys and girls under the age of 18) are used as combatants, messengers, porters, chefs or for sexual services," added Rima Salah, deputy special representative of the Secretary General for the UN missions in the Central African Republic and Chad. The arrival of refugees from neighbouring countries and the movement of people displaced by war are also major barriers to the protection of children, according to a UNICEF report.

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