Archive for the tag “Libya”

Obama lifts sanctions against child-soldier trafficking

CC mrmichaelstuart.com NCIn the same week that President Obama issued, with great fanfare, an executive order to fight human trafficking, he also quietly nullified the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) of 2008. This is not the first time he has misused an executive order to override this piece of legislation, which was unanimously passed in Congress. In 2010, he granted a “one-time” waiver to certain nations, then renewed the waiver in 2011. His memo explaining the order said he had determined it is not in the national interest of the U.S. to proceed with the CSPA and was waiving its application for Libya, South Sudan, Yemen and, partially, Congo. The stated reason: So US arms manufacturers could continue selling their wares to countries that have not foresworn the child soldier oppression and so the US could continue sending military training funds to those countries.

How can the United States’ national interest be served by looking the other way while children are forced into military service? How can the President’s greatly welcomed stance against child trafficking be seen as anything other than a facade?

Mission Network News reports:

Four days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama quietly nullified the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) of 2008.

Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries (ECM) explains, “On Sunday afternoon, the president issued a memo saying that he has determined that it’s not in the national interest of the U.S. to proceed with this [Act], and therefore he has waived the application of this law with respect to certain nations like Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, and partially, in the case of Congo.” …

The CSPA was a Bush-era law aimed as a deterrent at U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their military. Rouster says it went through Congress unanimously–a rare effort. The teeth: “That law made it a federal crime to recruit or to use soldiers under the age of 15. It gave the U.S. the authority to prosecute, deport, and deny entry to anybody who recruited child soldiers, and it also forbade us to export arms and military items to countries that allowed use of child soldiers.” …

A United Nations committee urged the U.S. president to take a tougher stance. They’re not alone. “This action…I’m utterly dismayed by it,” exclaims Rouster, noting that it sends a lot of mixed messages. “We just see it as prolonging the war in Congo. We see it as sending the wrong kind of message to people around the world so that the practice of recruiting children to serve as soldiers is only going to increase as a result of this.”

The irony is that a week earlier, touting his administration’s stance on the issue, President Obama issued an executive order to fight human trafficking. Confused yet? Rouster says, “We just feel that these presidential memos will have the effect of subjecting more children to those wars, and also it’ll send the message to the world that ‘trafficking children into the military is okay with us’, or at least, ‘we’re looking the other way’.”

However, the issue of Child Soldiery has devastating consequences on a society. ECM has learned this firsthand over the years as they’ve built ministry to rehabilitate some of the child soldiers they’ve encountered in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Northern Uganda (Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony). Rouster says, “It’ll take generations to recover from the horrors, which is the case with the children that we work with in northern Uganda.”

You can read the full article by clicking here.
— Help former child soldiers recover from their trauma through Baptist Global Response or Every Child Ministries.
— Oppose the oppression of children in the military through International Justice Mission and Child Soldiers International.
— Related story: Ex-child-soldier: ‘Shooting became just like drinking a glass of water’

Terry Waite: The awful plight of Christians in the Middle East

A Syrian man shows marks of torture inflicted after rebels took control of a Christian area of Aleppo. (CC AFP/Getty Images NC)

Terry Waite writes for The Guardian:

Last week I returned to Lebanon, a quarter of a century after being kidnapped and held captive for almost five years, most of the time chained to a wall and denied many basic comforts. You might think such a trip foolhardy, but the crisis developing there desperately needs attention.

I had been invited to go back to see for myself the plight of the many Christian refugees who are flooding across the Syrian/Lebanese border, and travelled to the Bekaa Valley to visit the refugees who have been forced into exile from Syria. The situation there is tragic. …

Worthy as the proponents of political change may be, there are now elements of the Arab spring that have been hijacked by Islamic extremists who want to impose sharia law and banish Syrian Christians, who make up about 10% of the population. This has created a very hostile environment for minorities. I met refugee families living in dire circumstances in Lebanese border towns, and heard first hand their harrowing stories.

In the early 20th century, Christians made up to 20% of the population in the Middle East; that figure has now dwindled to around 5%. Before the Arab spring Christians in Syria were businesspeople, engineers, lawyers and pharmacists. While Assad brutally restricted political freedoms, the regime did allow the Syrian people religious freedom – more so than elsewhere in the Middle East.

Now Christians are leaving the country. The occupied territories of Palestine are also rapidly losing their Christian communities. Egypt is in turmoil with a series of anti-Coptic Christian riots; Libya is a disaster. In Iraq 300,000 Christians have fled persecution since the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

An estimated 100,000 Christians have left Syria, many to border towns like al-Qaa. Lebanon is the last country in the Middle East where Christians can live in relative peace and security.

Al-Qaa is a dusty, somewhat ramshackle town which has been the scene of numerous border clashes across the years. It is here that many of the Christian families who have escaped from the terrors of warfare in Syria find a temporary home. More than 200 families are housed in and around al-Qaa, mainly being taken into the homes of other Christian families or renting properties. The people I met were not well off. Families I visited told similar stories. The conflict had become so severe that they had been forced to leave their homes. In one place, there were 15 people living in four small rooms. “The Arab spring is a joke,” said one of the refugees. “It has become another form of persecution.” …

From a Christian perspective, Lebanon is rapidly becoming the only remaining country in the whole of the Middle East where there is a significant Christian presence. It will take plenty of acts of reconciliation before Christians once again feel safe in their homeland.

Read the full text of this article by clicking here.
You can donate toward Syrian refugee relief by clicking here.

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