Plan is calling for urgent action to defuse the ticking time bomb of traumatized former child soldiers.

Snatched from their homes and forced to kill, rape and loot by rebel armies, children who eventually break free suffer horrific psychological consequences.

Often rejected by their former communities and left scarred and alienated, these children have been described as a “ticking time bomb” by CEO Tom Miller.

View video of former child soldiers telling their stories {1.5mb, 1.31 minutes}

Children at risk
Speaking ahead of the debate by the United Nations Security Council on children in armed conflict, Tom Miller said Plan is committed to helping former conscripts.

“Child victims of conflict endure unimaginable experiences that leave them traumatized and vulnerable to further abuse," he said.

“We all need to work harder to protect children from the worst effects of armed conflict. The international community must make clear it will not tolerate the abduction of children by armed groups and must do more to protect children in refugee camps who are at particular risk.”

The debate follows a recent report by Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, that warned children in refugee camps are at particular risk of abduction, as well as rape and other forms of mental and physical abuse. It added that not enough is being done to give former child soldiers hope for the future.

Teenage girls snatched by armies often return home with babies and HIV/AIDS after being forced to become the ‘wives’ of armed groups or are given as 'rewards' to soldiers for victory in battle. Some are also forced to fight.

Boys as young as 11 are prepared for battle, and are also raped by their commanders.

Seven countries have been identified by the Secretary as using children to fight its wars — Nepal, Sudan, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

What is Plan doing?
In northern Uganda, where child soldiers were prevalent during the country’s 21-year war, Plan is hoping to establish a project to help victims. More than 20,000 children are estimated to have been taken from their families during this conflict.

According to Mr. Miller: "Children forced to fight have lost their childhoods, their futures must not be stolen too. We have a moral responsibility to provide the education, treatment and other support they need to rebuild their lives.

"Failure to act will create a ticking time bomb of angry, alienated and traumatized youth whose only skills they have to rely on are those they learned at war."

The project in Uganda will train teachers to provide psychological support to students who have been traumatized by war. For girls who return home with babies and/or AIDS, communities reject them as an economic burden. Yet Plan’s scheme will provide them with catch-up education projects and livelihood support.

Sponsor a child today to support Plan's work. Plan is committed to providing long-term community-based support to children whose lives have been ruined by conflict. Support Plan's work and sponsor a child today.

Learn more about child soldiers, what Plan is doing to provide support and how you can help.

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Child soldiers “a ticking time bomb”

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