State armed forces

Since January 2011, 18 states were reported to have used girls or boys in hostilities. In some cases children were deployed as members of official state armed forces including, national armies, paramilitaries, civil defence, police and other forces established by law (Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo/DRC, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Thailand and Yemen).

In others they were part of state-allied armed groups such as irregular paramilitaries and “self-defence” groups which were backed by, or allied to, government forces but were not officially part of them (Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen).

Children were also used in armed opposition groups reported to be supported by foreign states. These include Eritrea (support to Somali armed groups) and Rwanda (support to DRC armed groups).

In most cases children were members of these forces or groups. However, in a few cases they had not been formally conscripted or enlisted but were nevertheless used by state armed forces for intelligence purposes or as guides, porters, spies or human shields (Afghanistan, Colombia, Israel, Libya, the Philippines and Syria).

In addition to these states, our research shows that there are many other countries in which girls and boys are at risk of use by state armed forces or allied armed groups because of weak legal and practical protections for children.

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Further Reading:

Displayed below are Reports and News Items from our archive relating to State armed forces.