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

Alleged Al-Qaeda child soldier Omar Khadr receives apology, $10.5m compensation

The Canadian government’s decision to award Omar Khadr, a former child soldier affiliated with Al-Qaeda, an apology and a $10.5m compensation payment leads July’s news round-up.

Arrested aged 15 by US forces at a suspected Al-Qaeda base in Afghanistan, Khadr was then held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for a decade.

In Guantanamo, he pleaded guilty to killing a US medic in Afghanistan, a confession he says was made under duress, and returned to Canada in 2012 to finish his sentence. He was freed in 2015. 

The landmark decision by Canada’s government has polarised public opinion. Following the 5 July announcement, we wrote for Newsweek on why the decision is an important victory for child rights.

Prosecutors investigating German schoolgirl who joined IS

A 16-year-old German girl, believed to be fighting with Islamic State in Mosul, was among a group of militants captured by Iraqi forces earlier this month and is now being investigated on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist group, Reuters has reported.

She was among at least five foreign women captured by Iraqi forces in the embattled city of Mosul. The girl was reported missing from Germany by her parents in July last year, when she was 15, and is now being held in detention in Iraq.  

"I just want to leave," she said, according to a report published in German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. "I want to get away from the war, away from the many weapons, the noise."

Her situation puts the spotlight once again on how the justice system should treat children who have been exploited by terrorist or violent extremist groups.

Child soldiers feared to be among remaining IS fighters in Marawi

Fears remain in the Philippines that child soldiers are among a group of Islamic State-affiliated forces left fighting government soldiers in the southern city of Marawi, CGTN reported in July.

The Philippine army believes that there are now less than one hundred IS-allied fighters in the city but that some of those could still be children.

Violence in Marawi began in May when the army failed in its attempt to capture Isnilon Hapilon, believed to be the main IS leader in the Philippines and linked to the local Maute group, who have declared allegiance to IS.

Children increasingly targeted for murder, rape, recruitment in Central African Republic

UNICEF has warned that humanitarian assistance needed in Central African Republic could escalate to levels not seen since civil conflict started in 2012 and condemned the “increasing number of violent acts” targeting children, including recruiting them as combatants.

Christine Muhigana, UNICEF Representative in CAR warned that “armed groups and parties to the conflict must cease these flagrant violations of children’s rights and make every effort to keep children safe.”

The statement came just weeks after the breakdown of a peace agreement between the CAR government and armed groups operating in the country. We gave our perspective on the conflict and situation facing thousands of child soldiers in the country for African Arguments this past month.

‘If you are old enough to carry a gun, you are old enough to be a soldier”

Unrest in South Sudan reignited after peace talks failed last year and with an increasing number of children drawn into the deepening civil conflict, The Guardian has shined a spotlight on the dire situation faced by the country’s newest generation of child soldiers.

The UN estimates that 18,000 children have been recruited by government forces and rebel groups in the past four years. “Here, in our country, there is no age for fighting,” one rebel officer tells The Guardian’s Jason Burke. “If you are old enough to carry a weapon, you are old enough to be a soldier.”

British army is targeting working-class young people, report shows

The British Army’s targeting of working-class communities and 16-year-olds into the armed forces was laid bare this month with The Guardian reporting on our exclusive research.

Documents for the Army’s ‘This Is Belonging’ recruitment campaign reveal that 16-24-year-old ‘C2DEs’ – individuals in the lowest social and economic groups - are being purposefully targeted for armed forces jobs.

Child Soldiers International programme director Rachel Taylor told The Guardian: “It’s not about presenting the military as one of many options. It’s about exploiting people who don’t have a lot else going for them and taking advantage of that lack of opportunity to fill the ranks.”

July by numbers