The spoils of war

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By Teresa Saunderseducation journalist and children’s writer

Read Junior’s story to help children understand how war can impact on children’s lives

“My name is Junior and I live in Liberia in Africa. When I was seven years old, war came to our town. Rebel soldiers took away our food and clothes and I was left barefoot. They tied up my sister’s husband and beat him. I was very scared. Then, they took me away and made me join them.

I was taken to a rebel base and trained for a year to fight. I was jailed, beaten many times and taught how to use guns. We looted and harassed people and took part in many battles. Soon I began to enjoy being a soldier. It made me appear big and brave. But I was always afraid of the sight of a dead man.

I have now left the army and I am being helped to live a normal life again. I am going to school and I am being taught how to get on with people using discussion rather than violence.

Being a soldier was very hard. I feel sad because after I became a soldier, I never saw my sister or any other relatives again. I have no family now. I am alone.”

Deep impact

Although adults start wars, it is often the innocent women and children who suffer the most when the fighting begins. War can ruin children’s lives by tearing families apart, destroying homes and creating refugees. Between 1985 and 1995, 2 million children died because of war, armed conflict or persecution. Many more were injured by bombs, guns or landmines – which aim to maim or disfigure their victims. Children caught up in wars are also deeply affected by the terror and violence that they witness. And for those young people like Junior, who are forced to fight as soldiers, the trauma goes even deeper.

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