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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 115 / 125





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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

the constraints imposed on their lives by the lack of opportunities, the pressures on them by adults to join up, politicization and ideological propaganda to defend national interests, and the lack of protection of civilians in armed conflicts by their governments. Experience suggests that in times of war children’s rights whether they are combatants or non-combatants are not always respected or even defended. At such times a lot of attention is given to addressing deprivation through humanitarian aid and resolving the conflict, but not on defending human or children’s rights.

There is a wide gap between the law in theory and actual practice especially in situations of conflict. The insistence in international policy on the rights and protection of children, youth and women in wartime is clear. Yet it is equally clear from the research undertaken in this project that in reality the rights of children and young people are ignored and abused with impunity. A range of duty bearers must take responsibility for this, including parents, neighbours, governments and international bodies as well as armed groups. Not only are young people’s rights to protection, and access to services denied in times of war, but their rights to participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction which includes policy formation is equally denied. On the one hand young people are forced to participate in wars but on the other hand their interests and unique experiences and perspectives in conflict are not considered important in the public sphere and

peace agreements. The young people affected by conflict ought solutions. The largest part of the solutions to young people’s emerge from their own initiatives, resilience and creativity.

to be part of the problems should

Another fundamental problem arising from the research is that of sexual violence against young girls. Not only are the girls forced to join armed groups but they are also violated sexually with the consequence of becoming child-mothers and contracting HIV and AIDS. Aside from the everyday survival trials for both the abducted and non-abducted child-mothers, these girls are blamed for their predicaments, their children rejected and discriminated by communities in addition to loosing forever the opportunities to develop into wholesome adults. These

girls bear the scars of wars violence has been used as a

because weapon

their bodies have been battlefields.


of war with the objective of spreading terror

and fear, bonds of

inflicting psychological damage, disabling the family and society or even ethnic cleansing.

enemy by destroying the Concerned governments

should domesticate and institutionalize systems of reparation for these to severely punish the perpetrators of sexual violence, whether they hold positions in governments or are the rank and file in the armed forces.

girls and powerful

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