A faction of one of the armed groups in Darfur has agreed to prohibit the use of child soldiers in its ranks after discussions with the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Sudanese region (UNAMID), the mission reported today.

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The effects of civil conflict on Somalia's children have been catastrophic, as many youngsters have been forced to fight.

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At the UN today, international commitment to protect children in times of conflict was strengthened.

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The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict today stressed that children are victims and not perpetrators of war and unveiled recommendations that address the needs and rights of minors as victims, witnesses or perpetrators of violence during warfare in an effort to ensure justice for them.

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The world does not need to be reminded of the existence of children associated with armed forces and groups, for the record of the African continent in real terms is one badly blemished by a staggering number of such children.

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At the age of 15, Nestor Tata watched rebel soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) kill his father and not long afterwards came home from school to find the murdered body of his mother. With no siblings or anyone else to turn to, he took his parent’s savings from their hiding place under a mattress, packed a small bag and fled.

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An estimated 18 million children worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes because of conflict; a third of those are refugees whose families have fled across international borders, research shows.

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The former al-Shabab foot soldiers assigned to a drab cement housing bloc are young -- too young. One is only 9, yet they were enforcers of harsh edicts from Islamist militants who are preventing thousands of Somalis from escaping famine.

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The United Nations envoy advocating for the rights of children during armed conflicts today welcomed the Security Council's decision to agree to apply sanctions against any individuals or entities that violate children's rights.

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The Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict has expressed concern over continuing violations of children’s rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) and urged all armed groups in the country to immediately halt the practice.

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