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UNICEF: The Problem of Poverty and Militant Groups

By Bryson Koh, TIME

Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 12:08 PM

A young girl receiving water from a soldier

A young girl receiving water from a soldier

“How much longer?” This question was posed to all members in the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) by the delegate of Ukraine. “It is unjust for children to become child soldiers. They should not be fighting someone else’s battles.” Till this date, the problem of Children Recruitment in Armed Forces is a prevalent issue. There is no doubt that it is inhumane to be robbing the future of children, so the question at issue is why a majority of children, especially those in Less Developed Countries (LDCs), are willingly joining the military. Discussions in the UNICEF have come to a collective agreement that the primary fuel for children to join these armies is due to unrest in the countries itself, namely poverty and militant groups.

Over the past day, the Council has recognised the importance of collective efforts in closing the loopholes and working with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to put an end to child soldiers. Member states have been constantly debating over the issue of poverty in LDCs and how to curb this phenomenon. Due to poverty, a job in the military would seem as an attractive alternative due to its source of higher income. In Syria, the average monthly salary for a child is $55; in the military, a child is offered $100 per month.

As such, members of the UNICEF are looking into more preventive measures such as urging more developed countries like USA and Germany to fund projects that would help poverty-stricken families in LDCs. This help includes financial, medical and humanitarian aid. Basic necessities such as food and shelter are distributed to them so that they have sufficient resources, so that their children would have no intentions on joining the military. The delegate of USA has highlighted the possible misuse of these funds if placed into the wrong hands. Thus, they are proposing and working towards the creation of a system or World Bank in which funds are kept out of accessible reach from any country.

Furthermore, the UNICEF is also developing a more long-term approach to abolish child soldiers. Proposed by the delegate of Germany and strongly supported by countries like USA, China, Cambodia and Mexico, a two-phase plan can be implemented, in which financial assistance is given to LDCs. But, if there is still the recurring presence of child soldiers, military intervention would be acted upon these countries to control the situation.

All in all, international cooperation is vital to the success of any measure taken to fight Children Recruitment in Armed Forces. It is definitely agreeable that ending child soldiers can be a painstakingly long and far goal to accomplish. However, step by step, through education, financial and humanitarian assistance from other countries, this can and will be achieved.