English Section 06/04/2015

Islamic State and child recruitment

The United Nations legislation and international treaties oblige states to take firm measures to stop the growth of this phenomenon and work to control and criminalize all organizations that recruit children under the age of 18 years old.
Iosif Chalifa
The video,which was broadcasted by the terrorist organization <<Daesh>> ,showing a young Palestinian man being executed by a child that he did not exceed the 11 years old, is a reflection of the changing nature of conflict and the blurring distinction between civilian and combatants.At the same time it raises questions about the role of children in terrorist groups, and the impact of a phenomenon known as <<child soldiers>> on the future of the region clip.

Daesh declared the graduation of the first terrorist children battalion under the name <<Asbal al-Taouhid>> (cubs of monotheism) with children between the ages of 12-15 years old,that have been trained to use weapons and carry out suicide attacks in the confrontations combat,in contravention to all humanitarian principles generally accepted in accordance with the International Convention of the United Nations Rights of the Child, the optional Protocol on the involvement against children in armed conflict and war crimes against humanity under the Rome statute.

The phenomenon of child soldiers resulted in armed conflicts experienced by some countries in the region,especially Libya,Syria,Iraq and Yemen,so as to easily convert children to soldiers.It seems that it benefits a lot organizations such as Al Daesh for various reasons.Firstly, due to the low cost of the recruitment of the children compared to adults.At the same time with new weapons that are lightweight and easy to fire,children are more easily armed,with less training than ever before.Similarly ,children are often deliberately manipulated and brutalized in order to harden them into more ruthless soldiers while guaranteeing their monolithic and harsh religious or ethnic orientation or in other words to enforce extremist interpretations of Shariaa.On the other hand the recruiters may take advantage of them in order to gain profits through trafficking,smuggling,enslavement and prostitution.

As a child soldier  is defined every person under eighteen years of age,who is participating directly or indirectly in armed conflict,whether it is within the regular armed forces or a group of fighters,and wholesome of them are used in direct hostilities,the other work by helping business surveillance,espionage and information gathering,carrying messages,demeaning,logistics or using them as a tool of combat tactics in a manner that the enemy will delay or hesitate in the face of children,something that was used by the Ethiopians in the face of forces Eritrean 1988.

There are varied and complex reasons for this growing phenomenon in the Middle East region between the political,economic,cultural aspects.Most notably,it is the outbreak of wars and armed conflicts that require the constant recruitment and mobilization of fighters,and high of poverty and disease rates that push families to approve the recruitment of children in order to to ensure that meals are provided to the family(especially if the child belongs to families of known religious extremist orientation).A great example of this is the World Bank's Wiederhofer note,that in Burundi ,at least 80 percent of children were heads of households who though of themselves as adults because they provided meals to their family.At the same time the militarization of children volunteers occurs so they have the chance to protect themselves and their families from the violence and the chaos that prevails in their communities.Moreover,some children voluntarily join the armed groups to avenge their loved ones who were killed by hostile forces.Regarding the street children,orphans and sons of Arab fighters,recruitment is compulsory for strengthening the jihadi camps,and that is a method followed by some groups linked to Al-Qaeda as front victory of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Daesh in <<cubs succession>> camp in Deirdre al Zour,and camp <<cubs of Zarkawy>> in Damascus countryside.

Some jihadist organizations who control schools in Syria and Libya led to the replacement of scientific lessons and ideas,prompting many students to engage in armed conflicts and graduating children who prefer to join the ranks of these organizations for education of soldiers,as the closure of schools left without any alternative the children,making their enrollment in any of these armed groups convinced  that to be a soldier is better than being homeless,whereas children as young as 14 years old  earn monthly salaries ranging between 4,000 and 8,000 Syrian pounds,while detailed reports state that children who are fighting in the ranks of the organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(Daesh) are paid the same wages charged by adults (35.000 Syrian pounds,or about 200 US dollars).

Recruitment of children is not limited only to the areas controlled by the opposition forces,but it surpasses the refugge camps in neighboring country like Jordan,Turkey and Lebanon,where the difficult living conditions for many families,tempted them to accept money in order to send their children for <<jihad>>.It is noteworthy, that the pro-base organizations are not the only ones who exploit children in the Syrian war.At the same time,the very itself System also exploits them through what is known as <<Revolutionary Youth Union>> a system that includes thousands of children under the pretext of instilling patriotism,but also are participating in the raids and the hostilities in a veneered way.

Culturally too,the desire of children in demand to join armed groups is fostered by the customs and traditions of the community and every tribal's tenet ,as is the case of Libya and Yemen, as well as fighting in the ranks of armed groups generate material revenue great for a compared to other jobs.In Yemen the monitoring report of the United Nations regarding the recruitment of child soldiers  was led by the Houthi tribal group,Al Qaeda,Ansar al-Sharia and also by relatives of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The danger of the aforementioned phenomenon,lies to the fact that after they engage in military actions,it is particulary hard to break the psychological bonds with these organizations,taking into consideration that some of them are are addicted to drugs,some of them are linked with their comrades in a kind of fellowship,and plus we have to add the fear factor because if it fails to escape then it will be executed.

Scientific studies show that the recruitment of the child soldiers during the hostilities have devastating effects on the psyche of the child during childhood and upbringing,where <<this child grows on the principle of force and violence in addition to the fear muffled inside,which could explode at any time after a relatively staying away from fighting places>>which portends the birth of a generation of criminals outside times of war.It would be very dangerous not only to the countries experienced armed conflict,but the surrounding nations as well,because it will lead to a rise in crime of all kinds in these countries rates,taking into account the vast impact of of the interconnect character of Middle East nations,especially after receiving the necessary training to use arms.

It may be noted that most of the fighters in the ranks of terrorist organizations that plague the region now,where the subsequent result of child recruitment by Al-Qaeda ten years ago under the name of <<Birds of Paradise>> and they were children between the ages of 9 and 17 years old,who were used by Al Qaeda in various operations,especially the collection of information ,transport and transfer of funds,ammunition and weapons and acts of surveillance,leading to suicide attacks in different parts of Iraq,Pakistan and Afghanistan,which refers to the spawning new generations of terrorists in the coming decades as a result of the recruitment of children in the circle o armed conflicts in countries in the region,which in turn will impact on the security of the region in the future,especially that not only to recruit male children,but it has spread to recruit girls under the age of 18 and thus raise their children to frenzy fanaticism and loyalty to the terrorist organizations to ensure continuity, which is what actually happened in Iraq, where Al Qaeda encouraged widows of suicide bombers and fighters of organization to educate a new generation <<of intense loyalty to the base>>.Undoubtedly,it is particulary critical for children and youth formerly associated with armed groups to break cycles of violence and to find a new existence after a life of animosity and distress.

There are a numerous international conventions prohibiting the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict ,as the recruitment of children falls under the heading of war crimes according to international law,but unfortunately these international conventions do not find a response.The United Nations legislation and international treaties oblige states to take firm measures to stop the growth of this phenomenon and work to control and criminalize all organizations that recruit children under the age of 18 years old. It also highlights the importance of coordination between countries of the region to intensify security measures to prevent access by children to areas of armed conflict and tighten protection to the refugge camps to prevent child abduction and recruitment.It also should be an imperative on national governments to work on finding practical measures for the demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers,and to invite civil society organizations and bodies awareness fo the launch of the demobilization of child soldiers and to reintegrate them into society.And here it comes the importance of organizations and Islamic centers and religious authcorities like Al-Azhar, in awareness campaigns to explain the correct and spiritual concepts of Islam and trapping extremist ideas,which is the main factor in the recruitment of child soldiers.No matter the situational difficulties,we must envision a society where children can grow up as children and not as weapons of war.Even if the issue of child recruitment is of past relevance,yet in the beginning century it can be considered as a major drawback of our political acting.It is time for crimes against children in armed conflict to be considered as crimes against humanity.
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