AIDS orphans fast becoming child soldiers

The rising number of HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa is providing more child soldiers for the continent's many wars, a children's group has said.

The NGO, Save The Children, said young people were voluntarily joining the army because it offered food and a sense of protection and family.

Reuters quoted Save The Children spokesman, Douglas Webb as saying: "The more and more orphans there are, the more children we have in the armies. Where you have more children lacking family care, the more child soldiers you have."

It is estimated that 11 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation said some 40 million orphans were expected in the region from HIV/AIDS and other diseases by 2010.