Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Libya's Implosion and Its Impacts on Children

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Libya's Implosion and Its Impacts on Children

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Arab Spring that emanated from Tunisia spread like a wild fire to the rest of the Arab World, but with different impacts on each state. The system of government that was put in place under the guise of Islam in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia was challenged by the youth who felt neglected by previous governments. Problems such as unemployment, neglect of ethnic minority groups and the introduction of Islamic tenet in the governance of these states account for the ignition of the crises that consumed some states in the Maghreb and the Middle East. Libya's case is unique because of the special interest of the Great Powers in the state's fossil fuel. Also of concern was the Al-Qaddafi's foreign policy of Third Universal Theory (a position postulated by Al-Qaddafi's Green Book that calls for direct democracy through Basic People's Conferences as against the western form of representative democracy) aimed at Islamizing the rest of Africa to the detriment of the West's politico-economic ambition (Hunwick, 1997).

Al-Qaddafi's neglect of the people of the eastern part of the state, Benghazi, explained why the war erupted from the region that eventually spread to the remaining two regions of the country. The warring parties forced school children to the battle field. (2) Al-Qaddafi had to seek Touaregs assistance from Mali who, because of their economic plight had joined his forces in the war. Economic aid extended to the people of Tawergha (black population of about 30,000), a few kilometers away from Misrata by Al-Qaddafi to the detriment of the people of Misratan made the city one of the targets of the anti-Al-Qaddafi Misrata katibass (brigades). The forces wiped out the people including women and children in a retaliatory measure. This was possible with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s military "catastrophic success" that killed women and children in hundreds through air raids. NATO's involvement in the war came from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1970 and 1973 of 2011 empowered the external forces to intervene in a war due to humanitarian concerns (Kuwali, 2009a, 2009b).

Many authors have written on the impacts of war on children since the 1990s (Ignatieff, 1998, Sesay, 2003, Dallaire, 2010, Goldstein, 2011, Zack-Williams, 2012; Cohn, 2013). Children are the main victims of war because of their vulnerability to series of abuses during and after the war (Stohl, 1998; Sesay, 2003; Bennet, Gamba and van der Merwe 2000; Machel, 1995; Mutunga, 2006). The difference between child' and 'youth' in the African context continues to remain blurred as the interpretation depends on "what they are able to do in the given context" (Vigh, 2006: 35). This brings the argument on the need to use children during crisis into focus. As much as some believe that it is the tradition of Africa to engage children in war, (Bennet, 1999; Jezequel, 2006) what comes to mind is whether this is not antithetical to the signing of several protocols that forbid child soldering. Children under 18 were employed by both sides as combatants, spies, potters, cooks and comforters (bush wives). This paper will examine the issue of child soldiering and ethnic discrimination with regards to access to education, healthcare and other social rights as Libya is a signatory to a series of global, continental and sub-regional international treaties based on child rights. This study is an effort to link conflict to terrorism if Realpolitik is introduced against Idealpolitik (Sandole, 2010: 110).

Effects of war lead to internally displaced children (IDC), refugee problems and its associated crises on 'unaccompanied children' (Olonisakin, 2009: 556) such as malnutrition, sexual abuse, crises of education, and basic health care system. The conscripts during the war in Libya were adolescents who were in their formative years. Child soldering exposed children, both boys and girls, to HIV/AIDS. …

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