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Children at the Heart of the Burkina Faso Insurgency

Awoken by gunshots in the middle of the night, residents of Solhan were shocked by who they saw among the attackers in the town in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region: children. As the violence increases, so too does the recruitment of child soldiers. The number of children recruited by armed groups in Burkina Faso rose at least five-fold so far this year, up from four documented cases in all of last year, according to information seen by the AP in an unpublished report by international aid and conflict experts. At least 14 boys are being held in the capital of Ouagadougou for alleged association with militant armed groups, according to Burkina Faso’s public prosecutor at the high court in the city. The effects of the conflict on children — including their recruitment as soldiers, but also attacks on schools and children themselves — have become so concerning that this year Burkina Faso was added for the first time to the U.N.’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict. The government has not yet signed an agreement with the United Nations that would help it to treat such children as victims, not perpetrators, for instance, by moving them from prison to centers where they could receive psychological care.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS