U.S. Reduces Military Aid Over Child Soldiers

The United States is withholding some military aid to Rwanda for its alleged support of a group that uses child soldiers. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, announced the sanctions Thursday in an online forum with African reporters.

She said the sanctions are related to Rwanda’s backing of rebel group M23 in eastern Congo, which the State Department says “continues to actively recruit and abduct children in Rwandan territory.”

Rwanda has repeatedly denied supporting the group. The U.S. is acting under the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA), which denies certain forms of military aid to countries found to be using child soldiers or supporting armed groups that use them.

Thomas-Greenfield says the U.S. is dedicated to seeing that children not be put into combat.

“Our goal is to work with countries [which] have been listed, to ensure that any involvement in child soldiers, any involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers, stop,” said Thomas-Greenfield.

A State Department official tells VOA that Rwanda had been slated to receive a “small amount” of funding for military education and training in the coming months.

Under the same act, the U.S. is withholding some military training funds to the Central African Republic, where rebels who toppled the president in March are also accused of using underage soldiers.

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