Child Soldiers in the Philippines

MILF Soldiers in Training (IRIN)Reports are coming out of the Philippines concerning the presence of child soldiers with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Humanitarian law proscribes the recruitment, whether voluntary or forced, of young people under the age of 15 into military units. Currently, the MILF is locked in conflict with government forces on the island of Mindanao. The conflict is spreading rapidly. And there is increasing evidence that children are involved.

An officer in the government forces said:

We could hear the distinct voices of male children screaming amid the din of gunfire.

A recent Philippines Supreme Court ruling that the peace deal that the government was prepared to sign was unconstitutional has contributed to the return to violence and to its escalation. Government forces are pledged to engage robustly with the rebel forces on the island. Christians are fleeing as rebel units advance, adding further to the climate of fear in the area.

Full IRIN Report available here.

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