After assisting the Canadian military in revising its child soldiering practices, the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University in Halifax will become a center of expertise on this issue for all countries of the world. Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO).
The Institute, launched since Mr. Dallaire left the Canadian Senate in 2014, aims to eliminate children as weapons of war, a problem that the Lieutenant-General is well-known to have experienced in Rwanda and in several other missions.
“There is no conflict on earth where child soldiers are not used as the main weapon of war! Seven countries, including Yemen, Myanmar, Congo and South Sudan, are hiring them and 51 non-state groups are hiring them massively. Forty percent are girls, and some are as young as 7 or 8, “says Dallaire, who signed the book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children in 2010.
“We are already training NATO command staff. The Canadian government supports us in our efforts to become a center of expertise for all of NATO. It should happen within a year and all countries will then have access to our knowledge and expertise on child soldiers, “he continues.
How to react
For example, the institute teaches the military how to react on the ground in front of child soldiers without being forced to kill them and without causing them injury. “There are already soldiers who have had to use a weapon against child soldiers and after that, they have been psychologically affected and have a hard time looking at their own children,” says Roméo Dallaire.
Each year, the Institute also trains 15 Canadian Army Veterans who are then deployed to countries in Africa and the Middle East to provide training and demobilize child soldiers, including in Somalia with youth recruited by the terrorist group al-Shabab or Nigeria with those linked to Boko Haram.
“We have also created a navy program for pirates. They discovered that young children who go fishing are used by groups to make piracy, so we taught the seafaring how to deal with pirate children, “says Dallaire, stating that we now find pirate children both on the east coast and on the west coast of Africa.
The Institute is now developing more and more prevention efforts in addition to continuing its work to rehabilitate child soldiers. “Before, all the money went to rehabilitation, but many child soldiers never go there because they are killed or wounded. The number of child soldiers was not decreasing, because there are always new ones recruited. It does not help to continue fixing the broken pots if we do not try to stop it being done! “Illustrates the lieutenant-general at retirement.
The Institute is also addressing the issue of radicalization leading to youth violence and has created a program that will be distributed to all Canadian police forces to prevent the recruitment of youth and help police officers intervene with cultural communities without creating friction that can lead to the use of weapons.
National sponsor of Wounded Warriors, retired Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire donated service dog jackets to two Canadian Armed Forces veterans and their dogs.
The canids come from the organization Les Chiens Togo, which collects abandoned dogs and educates them to make dogs of psychological assistance.
“These dogs save lives, nothing less, because the injury caused by the post-traumatic stress disorder can be terminal, it can lead to suicide,” said Mr. Dallaire.