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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Fighting for a childhood
Napoleon Adok was "recruited" as a soldier at the age of 12

The brutal war in Liberia has drawn the world's attention to the recruitment of children in conflict. In a HARDtalk interview on 26 August Tim Sebastian speaks to Napoleon Adok, a Sudanese former child soldier.

Napoleon Adok was nine years old when the 1983 phase of the war in Sudan broke out.

His school was closed down, and he decided to run away from home and join the refugees heading for Ethiopia in order to try and continue his education.

It was not long into the nightmarish 3 month trip that he was regretting his decision, but there was no going back.

Having survived the walk through the bush, being shot at by Sudanese government forces, and witnessing people dying all around him, he arrived at a refugee camp in Ethiopia where the rebel SPLA were organising and training.

He was sent to the young boys' military training camp, and had no choice but to become a solider at the age of 12.

After spending four years carrying out missions across the border in Sudan, he was able to transfer away from the front line into driving and body guard duties, and from there he came to work for international charities and ngo's.

Now, having finally achieved the education he sought, he campaigns for UNICEF for the demobilisation of child soldiers, of whom there are still some 500 thousand in 80 countries, despite the best efforts of the UN.

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30 GMT, 08:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 18:30 GMT and 22:30 GMT.

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 03:30 and 23:30


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