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

DR Congo ex-child soldiers awarded $10m in damages

A landmark ruling in December saw the International Criminal Court (ICC) order former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga to pay $10m in reparations to hundreds of child soldiers recruited under his watch.

Lubanga was jailed in 2012 for 14 years for recruiting boys and girls in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) armed group in Eastern DRC during the 2000s.

On 15 December, ICC judges ruled he is now liable to pay compensation to 425 victims who were all under-15 at the time of the crimes during 2002 and 2003. It is believed many more could now come forward.

Child Soldiers International’s Sandra Olsson told AFP she hoped the ruling would "act as a catalyst in showing that those who recruit and exploit children in conflict will be held accountable for their crimes."

UN: Not enough being done to shield civilians from violence in Somalia

Armed conflict in Somalia is leaving thousands of civilians at risk with cases of child recruitment increasing 269% from 2015 to 2017, a new United Nations report revealed in December.

“Ultimately, civilians are paying the price for failure to resolve Somalia's conflicts through political means,” said the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating. “And parties to the conflict are simply not doing enough to shield civilians from the violence. This is shameful.”

The report shows there was a 269% increase in child recruitment in the country from 2015 (903 cases) to 2017 (3,335 cases) and 72% of recruitment in 2017 was attributed to Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

They fled Boko Haram, only to be raped by Nigeria’s security forces

For girls and women able to flee life under Boko Haram, an alarming number endure abuse by Nigeria’s security forces in the very camps designed to protect them, a New York Times investigation has revealed.

The UN says at least 7,000 women and girls have been sexually abused by Boko Haram but now the newspaper has revealed that abuse continues once they are free from the Islamist group.

“The same day I was brought there, soldiers started coming to rape me,” 14-year-old Falmata said of the security forces at the camp for victims of the war in northern Nigeria. “They did it one after another. I’m not even sure those two knew about each other.”

Children under attack at shocking scale in conflicts around the world, says UNICEF

At the end of 2017, UNICEF highlighted the ‘shocking scale’ at which children in conflict zones have come under attack over the past year.

“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. “As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”

Over the course of 2017:

  • In northeast Nigeria and Cameroon, Boko Haram has forced at least 135 children to act as suicide bombers, almost five times the number in 2016.
  • In South Sudan, where conflict and a collapsing economy led to a famine declaration in parts of the country, more than 19,000 children have been recruited into armed forces and armed groups, and over 2,300 children have been killed or injured since the conflict first erupted in December 2013.
  • In the Central African Republic, after months of renewed fighting, a dramatic increase in violence saw children being killed, raped, abducted and recruited by armed groups.
  • In Iraq and Syria, children have reportedly been used as human shields, trapped under siege, targeted by snipers and lived through intense bombardment and violence.
  • In Myanmar, Rohingya children suffered and witnessed shocking and widespread violence as they were attacked and driven from their homes in Rakhine state; while children in remote border areas of Kachin, Shan, and Kayin states continued to suffer the consequences of ongoing tensions between the Myanmar Armed Forces and various ethnic armed groups.