German Guns in Child Soldiers’ Hands

Child soldiers in Somalia (File Photo)Child soldiers in Somalia (File Photo)

A report by the German Alliance for Child Soldiers and other non-profits shows that child soldiers in multiple countries often end up using German-made arms.

Michael Davies from Sierra Leone was once a child soldier fighting in the civil war-torn West African country. His weapons of choice: German.

“When I had to fight as a young person in Sierra Leone, I saw many G3 rifles,” Davies said in a statement regarding the German-made Heckler & Koch gun, German website reported.

Davies is far from alone in his experience with German weapons. A new report by the German Alliance for Child Soldiers and other non-profits found that there are currently around 250,000 child soldiers in at least 20 conflict-ridden countries forced to spy, fight, carry supplies and even be sex slaves. And often German arms end up in these child soldiers’ hands.

“The study proves that Germany delivers small weapons of the deadliest kind to many conflict regions-also those where child soldiers are deployed, for example in the Middle East, India, Pakistan or the Philippines,” said Ralf Willinger, children’s rights expert and spokesman for the alliance, in a statement.

“Germany is thus jointly responsible for the escalation of armed conflicts and the suffering of children in these countries.”

Germany exported €47 million worth of small arms in 2016-€15 million more than the year before, the study notes-an increase of nearly 50%. More than a third of these exports end up going to countries outside of the EU or NATO.

German law forbids the export of weapons to conflict-torn countries, but the report says weapons still manage to cross borders illegally. On top of that, German weapons may be licensed to be produced in other countries, but where they go afterwards becomes unclear.

The report calls for a reform and standardization of legislation regarding weapons exports, such as considering the use of child soldiers in criteria for authorizing exports.

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