Prevent to protect: the recruitment and use of child soldiers as an early warning indicator, the case of Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro, pictured April 19, 2013, has been rapidly expanding the militia, tripling its size throughout the course of 2018. The UN has accused pro-government forces of targeting children during crackdowns on protests in January 2019, detaining some 77 children, some as young as 12.  P

Every year, Feb. 12 is observed as the International Day to End the Use of Child Soldiers, and regrettably, the world is confronted with dangerous new crises every day that may lead to the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In Venezuela, more than 90 per cent of the population are now living below the poverty line, which has resulted in a critical humanitarian crisis that is disproportionately affecting children. The UN estimates that there will be 5.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants by the end of this year. Approximately one-third of those fleeing the country have landed in neighbouring Colombia, where some have been recruited into Colombian guerilla forces. In Venezuela, widespread hunger due to food shortages and economic hardship is being capitalized upon by criminal gangs, using food and basic necessities as bait to lure in new recruits.



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