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Whistling Child Soldiers?

I’ll put this in the category of weird humanitarian initiatives. I saw this belatedly – the great blog Wronging Rights carried this story about an NGO that sells whistles to raise money to help former child soldiers. (Website here) The connection? Well, they say that, “Captured by Nkunda’s rebel army, the boys not big enough to hold a gun are given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle.” According to them, thousands of child soldiers are sent to the front line with only these whistles. Celebrities like Selma Hayek, John Stewart, and other apparently support “the whistle-blowers.”

I must confess, in my trips to Nkunda’s troops I have never heard of this whistle story – it is possible for several dozen, but thousands? Plus, I’ve never met a militia in the Congo that could find a child who was too small to hold a gun. Nkunda never had much trouble getting enough guns for his troops, it was the Mai-Mai who were less well-equipped.

Plus, the website is full of statements like these: “Nkunda’s rebels had gone mad with drugs. He told us it didn’t matter who guarded us, the sight of our white skin would enrage them and they would fire.” Um….I’m not a big fan of Nkunda’s troops, but this is bullshit.

Can anybody in Goma reading this tell me if I’m missing something here? Whistle kids, really? (According to the comments from Goma on Wronging Rights site, it is nonsense and the NGOs founders were deported by Congolese authorities for not having the right paperwork). Apparently, they have raised $80,000 by selling 2,000 whistles and are helping 270 Congolese kids.

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