Over 2,000 children are still being used as soldiers by 27 armed groups in North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo despite efforts by the United Nations Children’s Fund to remove them from the frontlines and return them to their homes.
One of Amina Diallo’s sons, 14-year-old Salif, has been missing since August last year. She thinks Islamists kidnapped him while he was on his way to the market in their hometown of Gao, in northern Mali, and recruited him as a child soldier.
Plenty of monikers have been attached to Omar Khadr, one of the most famous Guantanamo Bay detainees - child soldier, terrorist, war criminal, Al-Qaeda family member, security threat.
The protection of children remains critical in the Central African Republic, where parents willingly give their children to armed groups in exchange for protection and services.
"When I was still at school I was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army, along with 139 other girls," says Grace Akallo. "I spent seven months in captivity, but I survived, I escaped and I went back home."