Red Hand Day

2/11/2011 10:26:00 PM sendtheroths 0 Comments

The United Nations estimates that there are about 250,000 child soldiers in the world today. 

Child Soldier in the
Central African Republic.
Photo Credit: hdptcar of Flickr
During the month of December --while we wrapped and unwrapped our Christmas gifts-- an estimated 1,000 young men (and some women) were recruited into the various rebel militia groups in northeast Congo. Many of these soldiers are under age 18 and some as young as 8 years old.

The child soldier crisis is something so far removed from the American lifestyle that it is pushed aside by the average citizen. Perhaps people see it as 'not our problem' or 'too awful to think about' or simply something that makes Americans feel so small. A 'how could I ever do something to change that' mentality. I have good news. You can.

Red Hand Day’s symbol is a red hand which has been used all over the world by many organizations in order to say NO to child recruitment and the use of child soldiers. To protest against this plight, more than 350,000 red hand prints have been collected in over 40 countries worldwide by adults, adolescents and children.

Here's what you can do. 
Imprint your hand in red on a sheet of paper and send it to your city and state representatives. 2. Also, send a paper with the request to advocate the demands mentioned below and to be politically active.

Red Hands scattered around the UN Headquarters
in Geneva, Switzerland. 

  1. We demand “Straight 18”: Children under 18 shall not be recruited or trained by armies or any other armed group – no matter in which function (even if they are not carrying arms) or whether they join the groups “voluntarily” or are recruited by force. In addition, there should be no propaganda for recruitment directed to minors. All children below the age of 18 must be released from armies or other armed groups and supported in their reintegration in civil society. 
  2.  Penalization of the perpetrators: Individuals, states and armed groups who recruit children and use them as soldiers must be denounced and punished. Individuals shall be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court or a national court. National states and armed groups must be condemned and sanctioned by the state community, for example by the UN Security Council (economic sanctions, travel bans and freezing of bank accounts). 
  3. Protection, care and support for former child soldiers: Former child soldiers need to be provided with medical and psychological care and access to scholar or professional education, especially if they flee to developed countries. 
  4. Granting political asylum: Former child soldiers need to be granted asylum and protection in the countries they fled to. 
  5. Increased financial funds for aid programs: National and international financial resources for prevention and reintegration programs for child soldiers should be increased. 
  6. Stop the export of arms: No arms, component parts or munitions shall be exported to conflict zones where child soldiers can be found. This is especially applicable to small arms and also refers to third countries that transfer weapons to conflict areas. Further, all illegal ways by which weapons reach conflict areas need to be blocked: Stop the granting of licenses for arms production to non-European countries and stop the export of weapons to third countries that transmit weapons to conflict areas.
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