Exploitation of child soldiers must end

World Vision Australia welcomes the increased public attention on the issue of child soldiers, following the viral campaign of documentary film, Kony 2012.

The exploitation of child soldiers by rebel groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a horrific practice and one that must end.

World Vision recognises the invaluable role that public campaigning has in keeping this important issue in the international media and in influencing change. However, eliminating the use of child soldiers is going to require a complex response, led by the appropriate authorities and supported by international government action. In addition, the roots of the conflict are complex and it will take a complex response to address underlying causes of instability in Northern Uganda and the surrounding regions.

The international community must also address the long-term needs of the children affected by this war. This includes prevention, demobilization, and reintegration of child soldiers back into their home communities.

World Vision has been working in conflict-affected areas of Northern Uganda for over 20 years. The agency’s Children of War Rehabilitation Centres in the Gulu and Pader districts of Uganda have been running since 1995.

These centres take in children who have escaped or have been rescued from the LRA and they are provided with immediate and long-term medical support, psycho-social support (in the form of art therapy, counselling, life skills, family tracing and family counselling) and educational and livelihood's support.

They are also provided with support to help reintegrate into their communities and to reduce the stigma attached to their past.

In order to support peace, this conflict-affected region needs ongoing and sustained support to address issues of poverty and injustice. World Vision Australia currently works in a number of areas of Uganda and Southern Sudan touched by the conflict.

World Vision Australia spokesperson Megan McGrath is available for interviews on this issue. Megan spent six months working in the Children of War Rehabilitation Centre in 2009 and now works in the area of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for WVA’s Humanitarian Emergency response team.

Media contact: Chloe Adams - 0427 413 816 /chloe.adams@worldvision.com.au


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