Growing up in regions with violent conflicts presents dangerous challenges to children living around the world: they may be orphaned and responsible for raising younger siblings, they often have been forced out of their homes without any of their possessions, and they typically struggle securing access to food, clean water, medical care, and even a basic education. For some young people, living in a conflict zone has brought additional, unspeakable tragedy to their lives. In areas around the world, hundreds of thousands of young children and adolescents have been forced by rebels, warlords, and military leaders to serve aschild soldiersand sex slaves.1
During the two decades of civil war in Northern Uganda, approximately 20,000 children have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and used to fight against the local population and the Ugandan military.2 Jimmy Otim was one of these children. Today, he works as a Public Information and Outreach Coordinator for the International Criminal Court. In an interview excerpted below, Otim recounts how his experience as a child soldier has shaped his views on peace and justice in Uganda, especially the belief that LRA leaders must be held accountable for the crimes they have committed.
- child soldiers : For more information about child soldiers, refer to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldier
- 1 : “Child Soldiers,” International Rescue Committee, http://www.theirc.org/child-soldiers (accessed September 23, 2009). For more information on child soldiers, refer to The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers: www.child-soldiers.org.
- 2 : “Child Soldiers,” International Rescue Committee, http://www.theirc.org/child-soldiers (accessed September 23, 2009).