When All Else Fails

US taxpayers may be paying for child soldiers as young as nine

by John Byrne, RawStory

Concerned that child labor may be involved in stitching your t-shirt?

Try child labor involved in shooting people — child labor you may have paid for through your US taxes.

According to a report Monday, American taxpayers may be paying for child soldiers in Somalia, with some children as young as nine. Somalia, which the US AID agency considers a “failed state,” employs juvenile soldiers in its Transitional Federal Government, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Pens the New York Times Jeffrey Gettleman:

According to Somali human rights groups and United Nations officials, the Somali government, which relies on assistance from the West to survive, is fielding hundreds of children or more on the front lines, some as young as 9.

Child soldiers are deployed across the globe, but according to the United Nations, the Somali government is among the “most persistent violators” of sending children into war, finding itself on a list with notorious rebel groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Somali government officials concede that they have not done the proper vetting. Officials also revealed that the United States government was helping pay their soldiers, an arrangement American officials confirmed, raising the possibility that the wages for some of these child combatants may have come from American taxpayers.

Gettleman includes a scene with a Somali 12-year-old in his piece who “is shouldering a fully automatic, fully loaded Kalashnikov assault rifle [while] is working for a military that is substantially armed and financed by the United States,” whose “cherubic face” turns angry at the approach of a driver at a checkpoint. “Few want to take their chances with a moody 12-year-old,” he writes.

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