The country is sadly famous for its numerous civil wars, the last of which was especially bloody (100 000 dead) lead by the rebel group of Joseph Kony, the LRA. This war involved the enrolment of many child soldiers (we believe 35 000 to 60 000), and also led to displaced people (almost 2 million), atrocities, sexual violence, mutilations, etc.
In 1983, a particularly bitter and cruel war began. It was between the government of Sri Lanka ruled by a majority of Singhalese Buddhists and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist organisation fighting for the creation of an independent state in the East and the North of the country. The Tamil population continues nowadays to suffer from the stigmas of war. And much like in every conflict, the first to pay the price are women and children.
Virtually all of the armed groups have recruited children as soldiers, both in villages and in towns. Almost 18,000 have been recruited in total. With the presence of criminal gangs, we also see the notion of the criminalised child appearing (informants, drug dealers, or, even worse, sicarios – contract killers, etc.). These individuals should also be treated as child soldiers. Children “joined” armed groups for various reasons: difficult economic conditions, domestic violence, a lack of opportunities, a desire for revenge, threats and forcible recruitment.