Child soldiers go back to school

 A new project has been launched by Christian charity Jubilee Action in Liberia to rehabilitate children used as soldiers in the country's civil war. The Back to School Project aims not only to get youngsters into school, many for the first time, but also to provide trauma counselling and schemes to reintegrate them back into their communities. The project, which also provides help for abandoned and orphaned children in Liberia, has set up an income-generating schemes for children when they leave school. A Liberian worker with the project said: "We are now working around the clock to ensure that the project is successful. Our offices are being flooded with inquiries." The initiative, which Jubilee Action is supporting together with Christian partners in Liberia, has made headline news in several Liberian newspapers. The press coverage is a testament to the acute nature of the problem and also the relief that is felt locally that something is being done for a lost generation of children. During Liberia's ten year civil war, one quarter of all combatants were children - some 20,000 in all. The physical and psychological effects of combat on children are devastating. However, the goal to educate and rehabilitate these children are essential in a country with an estimated 70% of the population lacking the basic skills to read or write. Jubilee Action is committed to supporting the Back to School Project in Liberia for least five years to ensure that the children receive the long- term and consistent support they need. The use of child soldiers has become an increasing part of modern warfare around the world. The reason for the escalation is new technology and the ease in the control of minors. The mass production of inexpensive light weapons makes it easier for children to be recruited and trained. The UN estimate that about 300,000 child soldiers are involved in about thirty different conflicts world-wide.

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