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Berlin arm sales policy worsens situation for child soldiers: Rights group

13 February 2015 14:21

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Rights group activists with the German Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has called on Berlin to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of child soldiers, Press TV reports.

The activists made their request at the annual “Red Hand Day” event, which aims to draw attention to the role of the world’s third largest weapons exporter in furthering the concern of child soldiers.

“Sometimes we export weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia sends them to other conflict areas like Syria, for example, where they are used on both sides of the conflict. So, they might also fall into the hands of children there,” said Antje Weber from the Deutsches Bundnis Kindersoldaten, an alliance of 12 non-governmental organizations.
Germany also sells arms and military equipment to countries such as Pakistan, India, Egypt, Kuwait, and Colombia. A recent report by the United Nations shows that these countries have armed groups that recruit child soldiers.

Berlin is also one of the largest producers of small weapons, which can be easily carried by children.

The coalition said monitoring the destination of the weapons after they are sold is difficult so the Berlin government should be held responsible for the consequences.

The “Red Hand Day” is a series of events organized by regional coalitions and right groups from all around the globe on February 12 each year to draw attention to the fate of children forced to serve as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts.

Figures show that there are more than 300,000 child soldiers in active conflict around the world.

Last week, the German opposition Left Party asked the government to stop all arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Although Germany decided to halt weapons exports to Riyadh last month, Germany’s Federal Security Council approved the export of shooting simulation systems, target display devices, and border security technology to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia is considered to be one of the major supporters of ISIL Takfiri militants currently operating in Syria and Iraq. Riyadh has also been backing a severe crackdown by the Bahraini government on pro-democracy protesters since 2011.

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