Nova Scotia

Dalhousie program receives $3M to end child soldier use in South Sudan

The Romé​o Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University is receiving $3 million from Global Affairs Canada to develop a program to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers in South Sudan.

Romé​o Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative will begin April 1 and run for 3 years

Roméo Dallaire says it's important to focus on children before they are recruited to become soldiers. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The Romé​o Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University is receiving $3 million from Global Affairs Canada to develop a program to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers in South Sudan.

A civil war broke out in South Sudan in 2013 and more than 19,000 children are thought to have been recruited by all sides since that time.

Human rights groups say child recruitment continues, even as South Sudan's government says it has committed to ending the practice.

Dallaire was a force commander in a United Nations mission to Rwanda in 1994 where an estimated 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide.

More than 19,000 children are thought to have been recruited by all sides in South Sudan since the civil war broke out in 2013. (Stefanie Glinski/AFP/Getty Images)

He said child soldiers are being used in conflicts worldwide.

"They end up being … the backbone of many of the conflicts. In fact, every conflict that's out there uses child soldiers extensively now," he told the CBC's Mainstreet.

How the project will work

A news release said Dallaire Initiative staff will work with local partners on training and sensitization activities that aim to change attitudes and behaviours on the use of child soldiers.

The initiative will also work with stakeholders such as UN peacekeepers and South Sudan's military on developing strategies to protect children from becoming child soldiers.

Dallaire said children can be recruited in a number of ways, such as through force and intimidating families and communities.

He said it's important to focus on the children before they become child soldiers.

"Although people have been pouring money and effort into rehabilitating and re-integrating ex-child soldiers, it's done nothing to reduce the numbers, literally nothing," he said. "In fact, one of the fears we have is re-recruitment."

The project will officially begin on April 1 and will run for three years.

With files from the Associated Press

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