Obama Sends Aid to Governments That Use Child Soldiers



Countries that use child soldiers like South Sudan should not be sent military aid until they stop using child soldiers.

Jake Paz, Opinion Editor

On Sep. 28 President Obama announced in his Presidential Memorandum that four countries are still using child soldiers – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Syria, and South Sudan – and these countries will continue to receive United States military assistance. In order to make this presidential decision Obama waived the effects of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) which took effect in 2010 and is designed to withhold military aid from governments who exploit children in warfare. Obama’s decision to provide military aid without negotiating a deal to stop the use of child soldiers in these countries’ armies makes the children the real victims in this situation.

Obama’s allowance of military aid, up to $161 million US tax dollars in this coming year, to be sent to these countries that disregard the innocence of a child was achieved by Obama signing “national interest” waivers that allow them to receive funding. The use of children in war has become increasingly more prevalent with the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Boko Haram, who have been kidnapping young boys and training them to be suicide bombers or soldiers. Yet it seems that Obama has more important issues than stopping the use of child soldiers due to his frequent disregard of the CSPA over the five years it has been in effect.

“The fact that Obama continues to provide military aid, despite the fact that he knows that they use child soldiers is not only infuriating but [also] heart breaking,” junior Veronica Silva said.

However, the CSPA has been effectively used in the past with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where military aide was withheld until their government signed an action plan with the United Nations to end their use of child soldiers in 2012 however they have continued to recruit children but in significantly smaller amounts. The act has also successfully ended the use of child soldiers in Chad by using military sanctions; no reports of recruitment of children have been made in the past two years.

In the five years after the creation of the CSPA, Obama has been too lenient with the governments that have recently allowed military aid from the United States, and should consider reinforcing the CSPA to its fullest potential since there is evidence that it can pressure countries into signing agreements to end the recruitment of child soldiers. Granted, this one act alone will not be enough to end the epidemic of using children to fight in wars, however, it can make the transition from this practice come much sooner.

Child soldiers infographic