SUDAN WATCH: Many in Darfur's SLA rebel group are as young as 16

Friday, June 23, 2006

Many in Darfur's SLA rebel group are as young as 16

David Blair's Darfur diary (4) UK Telegraph June 23, 2006 - excerpt:
We drive across the desert to Galap, an area of Northern Darfur province controlled by rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). Another checkpoint manned by government soldiers marks the front line between opposing forces. Here, the soldiers wave us through. They wear t-shirts, dark glasses, camouflage trousers and flip-flops. This crazy dress code is adopted by the fighting men on both sides of this war.
After this checkpoint, we cross about five miles of "no-man's land", empty of people and all signs of habitation save for one ruined and abandoned village. Then an SLA checkpoint marks our entry into rebel-held territory.

Once again, we are welcomed by a rag-tag bunch of SLA fighters, many of them child soldiers. I ask one 16-year-old how long he has spent with the rebels. "Three years," he says. "Have you ever been to school?" I ask. He gives me a blank look. "No, there was no chance for that," he replies.



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