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Obama Waives Law to Send U.S. Aid to Child Soldier Nations

Libya
Photo courtesy of شبكة برق | B.R.Q/Flickr

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a little-known law called the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which put specific limits on America’s military dealings with countries that use child soldiers.

It’s a common misperception that most child soldiers are African boys carrying automatic weapons. To start with, nearly 40% of child soldiers are girls.

Furthermore, they are used for much more than firing bullets at the enemy. In Think Again: Child Soldiers, authors Scott Gates and Simon Reich make the point that “many child soldiers are not armed combatants. They include messengers, porters, spies, and sex slaves.”

But in the four years since  The Child Soldier Prevention Act prevented “providing assistance” or issuing “licenses for direct commercial sales of military equipment ” to nations using children as soldiers, millions of dollars of American military aid have flowed into countries that continue to mistreat their most helpless members.

On Friday September 28 President Barack Obama issued an executive memorandum waving the restrictions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act completely for  Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, and the Congo. This comes as a small surprise. Up until the official waiver, the U.S. was dolling out $21 million in aid to Yemen alone without taking the matter of child soldiers into account as a restriction on any of the funding.

Back when the State department put out its list of child soldier countries, the group Human Rights Watch warned that the list was a challenge to the Obama administration because it contained four countries that received U.S. aid.

In the article U.S Must Enforce ban on Child Soldiers, released back in June, author Jo Becker said the State department’s list  ”puts the Obama administration’s commitment to end the use of child soldiers to the test — and the clock is ticking.”

The clock is no longer ticking, Obama broke it.

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