According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 408,000 people enslaved in Burundi. Amnesty International describes how military leaders have fuelled Burundi’s 10 year armed conflict by recruiting and abducting children. Poverty and years of armed conflict have made it easier for a whole generation of children to be drawn into the armed conflict. The Burundian armed forces as well as Burundian armed political groups1 have all recruited and used child soldiers in a variety of capacities - as porters, informants, “wives” and actual combatants.
Jean-de-Dieu was forced to become a child soldier at the age of 14.
My friend told me “Ah guy, just you go to be together in the rebels, to fight for getting the victory.” I was 14 years-old. Our chief told us, ‘Just kill that people”, and I, I, killed him- I killed them. With a knife, or with a gun or a Kalashnikov. So that’s why, um, I was scared and that’s why I, um, I got sorrow in my heart. In this moment – even if God is…
I decided to give up the rebels. It is forbidden to give up, your chief will kill you. But they didn’t get me so I didn’t get killed.
Narrative and image taken from a documentary by Djûke Stammeshaus on Foundation Stamm, an organisation in Burundi that helps vulnerable groups.