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Present Conditions of Children's Rights and what is expected of the religious people - Conflict and democracy and their effect on children

CONFLICT AND DEMOCRACY AND THEIR EFFECT ON CHILDREN

While 1960' s -1970 were years for fight for independence from various colonial masters, the 1980 - 1990 have been years for citizen fights from colonial liberators.  The fight against the liberators saw uprise of civil wars in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zaire now known as republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia.

Kenya although known as an island of people, peaceful fight from colonial liberators continue through street demonstrations, fight for constitutional change and strikes to press for human rights respects.

It is now widely accepted that the civil conflict have been as a result of unfulfilled promises by the liberators from the colonial yokes.

Policies which govern them still remain one single reason for social unrest in Africa. The civil unrest in return led to liberation war such as the one we saw in Uganda ushering in president Museveni, in Republic of Congo bring in President Kabila against the late president Mobutu Seseseko.

In some countries, the civil wars have been due to clan disagreements, ethnic tensions fueled by a political class of persons.  A good example in this class is Somalia where up to today, we have no government. In all these countries, children have been used as soldiers.

Mr. Olara Utuna, special rapparteur for children in armed conflict notes that more than 300,000 children are working as child soldiers, with majority being found in Rwanda, sierra Leone, Congo, Southern Sudan, Mozambique and Angola.  He further says that more than 2 million children have been killed, 6 million seriously injured, while 12 million have been killed, 6 million seriously injured, while 12 million have been made homeless.

It is against these shocking figures that the campaign to end use of children in armed conflict has been going on.

Although the UN group on the drafting of the optional protocol to the UNCRC finally reached an agreement in January, 2000 there is still a lot to be done to achieve lost peace in the war torn countries.

The increase in internal tension has also in return led to insecurity within the country or the neighbouring country as the trade in small arms to liberation groups increase.  These small arms have found their way into wrong hands in the streets; and used against the very citizen they were supposed to protect.

The need to lobby for introduction of peace education in schools cannot be underscored.  There is further need for psychological rehabilitation programmes for child soldiers returning from liberation armies.  This one you can all help.

Another role the religious organizations can play is by sitting on peace meditation tables and ensuring that women, children and men are all involved in finding everlasting peace.