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Sanctions in line for five nations that use child soldiers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Military assistance has been blocked to five countries on the part of the United States. These nations are facing sanction for their use of child soldiers in ongoing armed conflicts, officials say.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The five nations  involved in these sanctions are the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Burma (or Myanmar) and Syria.

"Our goal is to work with countries who have been listed to ensure that any involvement in child soldiers - any involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers - stop," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

Chad, South Sudan and Yemen - three other countries whose armies have been known to recruit and use child soldiers, received waivers, according to a State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia received partial waivers, saying that the Obama administration has decided such exemptions "would be in the national interest of the United States," the source said.

The U.S. State Department by law must keep track of nations whose governments recruit and use children as soldiers as part of its annual report on human trafficking. The 10 countries affected by Thursday's actions had all been previously cited in the State Department's June report.

Countries found guilty can be denied some types of U.S. funds for military assistance, unless the White House grants a waiver. The 2008 law also allows U.S. officials to block licenses needed for those nations to buy military equipment.

It's not yet known how much U.S. funding would be blocked because of this week's action.

Surprisingly, Rwanda was not granted a waiver because of its role backing the rebels in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Thomas-Greenfield, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, U.N. investigators and the Congolese government have accused Rwanda of sponsoring the rebellion, a charge Rwanda denies.

"Any support of those rebel groups is seen as contributing to conflict in the region," Thomas-Greenfield told reporters. He also said that U.S. officials will continue to discuss the issue with the Rwandan government.

The United States will still support peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda, the other official added.

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