|Vatican||HOLY SEE SEEKS UN PROTOCOL TO PROTECT CHILD SOLDIERS||
observer at the UN headquarters in Geneva Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello has called for a protocol to prohibit the use of children in armed conflicts along the lines of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Archbishop Bertello called UN attention to the face that "tens of thousands of children used as soldiers in armed conflicts." He described it as a phenomenon fed by the disintegration of the family and caused primarily by civil wars. Many are orphans who see army life their only possibility of protection and sustenance, while others are recruited by force.
"The consequences are dramatic, since these children are deprived of their infancy and a normal education, to which they are entitled. They learn to kill and to confront the aggression and violence which surrounds them daily and which they must endure. They have no emotional relationships or places to go for refuge," Archbishop Bertello said.
U.N. studies estimate that at present there are at least 250,000 boys younger than 18 years of age in the armies and guerrillas of 38 countries. Investigations reveal that in Colombia, about 50% of the paramilitary forces are made up of minors; in Liberia this category is 25%.
Archbishop Bertello also called the attention of the UN to the sale of children, and their abuse for prostitution or pornography.
|10:15am 21/4/99 / Zenit|