A selection of news stories concerning child soldiers which have appeared in international media over the past month.

Boko Haram increasingly using children as ‘human bombs’ 

Boko Haram and other militants in north-east Nigeria have used 83 children as ‘human bombs’ this year, an alarming four-fold increase on 2016 numbers, according to new research released by UNICEF in August.

The UN’s children agency revealed that of those children used in 2017, 55 were girls, most often under the age of 15.

“The use of children in such attacks has had a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram,” a UNICEF press statement read. “As a result, many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities, compounding their suffering.”

An education in terror

The Islamic State’s use of child soldiers in Iraq and Syria is well documented and now several of those who managed to escape the clutches of the militant group have shared their experiences with the BBC.

The accounts offer a harrowing insight into life under IS and the reality for its hundreds of child combatants: “If you try to leave, you would be imprisoned - most of those who wanted to defect have been executed,” one boy said.

The piece came just days before the group released its latest propaganda video, this time featuring what appeared to be an American boy in its ranks.

Nine child soldiers released in northern Mali

Violence among armed groups in Mali reignited this month, with fighting between the ex-rebels of the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) and the pro-government Platform group. Mass graves have been discovered in the northern city of Kidal, and there are growing reports of human rights abuses across the region.

Amid this conflict, the United Nations has brokered the release of nine child soldiers in Kidal, AFP reported.

"Good news from our colleagues in the peacekeeping mission in Mali.... Nine child combatants were handed over to the UN mission in Kidal this morning," UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.

"The mission is… making arrangements for their care by child protection officials pending reunification with their family.”

Former Myanmar child soldier arrested over interview

A former child soldier in Myanmar has been arrested for speaking out about his experiences in a newspaper interview and could face up to two years in prison, Radio Free Asia reports.

Aung Ko Htway spent nearly a decade as a child soldier and was arrested after sharing his experiences with Radio Free Asia.

He is charged under Section 505(b) of the country’s Penal Code for giving information that ‘may cause public fear or alarm and incite people to commit offenses against the state’.

“It's beyond outrageous for anyone in the Burmese military to press charges against former child soldier Aung Ko Htway simply for telling the story of how he was abused after being abducted by the military at age 14,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

Colombia declares war 'truly over' as last FARC guns handed over

Colombia’s 52-year civil war was declared ‘truly over’ by President Juan Manuel Santos as disarmament of FARC rebels was completed this month, France24 reported.

The final handing over of weapons by the communist-inspired group was announced as 24 child soldiers under FARC control were also released.

“With the laying down of arms ... the conflict is truly over and a new phase begins in the life of our nation," Santos said.

The UN mission head Jean Arnault said a total of 17 containers of arms had been handed over during the past year.

The long-running conflict has left more than 250,000 dead, displaced millions and seen thousands of children recruited.

The role of child soldiers in Colombia’s war is laid bare in the new novel Colombiano. You can read an interview with author Rusty Young on our blog here.

17 army instructors charged with assaulting teenage recruits

One of the largest army abuse cases is underway in the UK after 17 army instructors were charged with assaulting six 17-year-old trainee recruits, The Guardian reports.

The instructors face 40 charges of ill-treatment, battery and actual bodily harm and could be jailed if found guilty.

The allegations centre around a training camp in Scotland where the six recruits claim they were punched and kicked and their heads pushed under water.

All 17 instructors, who were based at the army’s training college in Harrogate, England, deny the charges.

August by numbers