Johannesburg — EFFORTS to rescue thousands of children recruited into war by government and rebel forces have suffered a major setback with the imminent closure of an organisation committed to secure the minors' release.
Child Soldiers International, the non-governmental organisation, announced it would cease operations in June because of funding challenges.
"In what is an increasingly challenging funding and operating environment for small human rights NGOs, it is with regret we announce that is to cease operating on 7 June 2019," the organisation stated.
Since our inception as the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998, and then as an independent organisation from 2011, Child Soldiers International has fought to end the devastating practice of child recruitment.
It was central to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child's (OPAC's) creation and the drafting of its principles.
Child Soldiers International said it was in discussions with partner organisations including the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Child Rights International Network to ensure existing programmes could continue to provide critical resources to children affected by armed conflict and their communities.
"Our campaigning for a world where no child is exploited by military forces continues to be championed. More details will be shared in the coming weeks," Child Soldiers International concluded.
According to human rights groups, children recruited into war might fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions and act as spies or messengers. Girls might be forced into sexual slavery.