Church council says 300,000 children fighting in wars
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The World Council of Churches says 300,000 children are fighting in wars around the globe and has appealed to African churches in particular to help end the recruitment of child soldiers.
Most of the children engaged in armed conflicts were from poor or "marginalized" communities, according to the group, which represents 450 million non-Catholic Christians from more than 300 churches.
The WCC, which is holding a conference in Zimbabwe, said many children were lawfully recruited but others were kidnapped or coerced. Child soldiers fight or assist front-line soldiers in most African conflicts.
In a statement Friday, the WCC appealed to churches to press their governments to ratify and enforce the African Charter on children's rights, which prohibits children under 18 being recruited for military duties.
The world council also asked churches to assist in the rehabilitation of child soldiers, especially young girls, traumatized by their experiences in national armies or irregular armed forces or rebel groups.
Christian doctrine condemned war and sought the overall "delegitimization of war and violence and ... to overcome the spirit, logic and practice of war," the churches said.
Children have fought in conflicts in Angola, Burundi, Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan in the past decade.
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