Horn of Africa Bulletin, Volume 22, No. 7, August 2010
The nature of armed conflict has changed since the end of the cold war in the 90s. Nowadays, armed conflicts mostly confine the lives of civilians, over half of whom are children (Steven Hick, 2001, P.106). Drawing from the Sudan perspective, this article analyses the impact of armed conflict on children, particularly the psychosocial dimensions of child soldiers and refugee and internal displaced children.
Source of conflict
At the 2000 International Conference on War-affected Children, in Winnipeg, Canada, Graça Machel summed up the circumstance of the world's children caught up in armed conflict: "wars have always victimized children and other non-combatants, but modern wars are exploiting, maiming and killing children more callously and more systematically than ever. Children today find themselves caught up in complex and confusing conflicts that have multiple causes and that lack clear prospects for resolution. Children are being sucked into seemingly endless endemic struggle for power and resources." (Steven Hick, 2001, P.107).
Machel was right indeed when identifying endemic struggles for power and resources as being at the heart of modern wars. The Sudan conflict has overshadowed the much celebrated Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Sudanese Government and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in January 2005, and the general elections in 2010. Although there are a number of political, ethnic or religious factors that underscore armed conflict in Sudan, power struggles and economic factors are determinant in understanding the crisis.