Peacekeepers advised to prioritise child protection

Twenty-two police and military officers from six African countries yesterday concluded a four-day training on the prevention of use of child soldiers at Rwanda Peace Academy in Musanze,  Northern Province.
A participant from Uganda receives a certifcate  from Murekezi. The New Times/ Clement Uwiringiyimana.
A participant from Uganda receives a certifcate from Murekezi. The New Times/ Clement Uwiringiyimana.

Twenty-two police and military officers from six African countries yesterday concluded a four-day training on the prevention of use of child soldiers at Rwanda Peace Academy in Musanze,  Northern Province.

The participants were drwan from Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

The Minister of Public Service and Labour Anastase Murekezi officiated at the closure of the  course entitled “Prevention of the Use of Child Soldiers: A Course for Security Sector Actors.”

Murekezi urged the participants to use the skills learnt from the course to protect children wherever they go for peace support missions.

“As military and police officers, you have to play a crucial role in preventing the recruitment and use of children during armed conflicts,” Murekezi urged participants.

He noted that child conscription in the army is the worst type of child labour.

The course was conducted by Rwanda Peace Academy in partnership with The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

Director of Rwanda Peace Academy, Col. Jules Rutaremara said such a course enables participants to gain techniques on how to prevent the recruitement of child soldiers.  Participants promised to use the skills they gained during the course.

“We are part of peace support missions but this course has made us child protection officers,” said Raphael Rutaihwa, a participant from Tanzania.

Zhoud Kailie, from Sierra Leone, promised to use the skills learnt to counter child soldiering and design concrete measures as they return back home.

The course was organised to advance a better understanding of child soldiering and to analyse the reasons behind the use of children in armed conflicts.

Carl Canradi, Programme Officer of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, said they invited countries which contribute military and police to peace keeping operations. He hopes that the participants will use the skills in the future peace keeping operations.  

About 250,000 children globally are enrolled in military activities and a half of this number is found in African war-torn nations although countries like Colombia and Burma also have a big number of child soldiers.

Meanwhile, Minister Murekezi said latest survey by Rwanda Institute of Statistics showed that three per cent of children aged between six and 17 years, representing 110,742 were found involved in economic activities outside their households.

“Although the situation of child labour has improved tremendously, some work still needs to be done,” said Murekezi.

The Rwanda government recently passed a policy against child labour.

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