February 10, 2017 — To mark the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on February 12, Jesuit Refugee Service and Entreculturas, a social outreach program of the Spanish Jesuits, are joining Pope Francis to pray and mobilize for the end of the use of child soldiers, in collaboration with the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.
More than 230 million children around the world live in areas affected by armed conflict. Although there is no accurate data on the total number of child soldiers, it is estimated that there are around 250,000. Child soldiers — some as young as 6 years old — are forced to fight and kill. They are also compelled to participate in espionage, support armed groups as informants, and engage in illicit activities such as drug production.
Prayer and supporting JRS and Entreculturas programs can help ensure that children do not spend their childhood on a battlefield. People are also encouraged to support Pope Francis' initiative by signing the related petition.
Below is The Pope's Video — a worldwide call to turn prayer into "concrete gestures" — from December 2016, in which the pope prays that the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated.
[Source: Jesuit Refugee Service]