By SIR PAUL McCARTNEY
CHILDREN can be the forgotten victims of war. As well as being caught in the fighting, young people trapped in conflicts in Africa and elsewhere are often forced to become soldiers themselves. Here, Sir Paul McCartney tells why he wants to do something to help.I’M reading a book at the moment called A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier.
It’s all about a guy being forced to fight in a war zone in Sierra Leone. He’s a 13-year-old boy soldier and he is pictured on the front cover in a pair of tatty flip-flops and carrying a huge gun. He’s just a child. Some of the stuff in the book is horrific — really awful. But you read it and it is easy to think, “Oh well, this is in a book so it’s ancient history, all done and dusted.’ But this morning I was hit by a terrible thought. This isn’t history. This is happening all over the world right now. Sadly, we have become all too used to our guys as young as 18 fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For me, that is already too young. But imagine an army ” if you can call it that — made up mostly of kids aged 13 or even younger. Then imagine something worse. Imagine atrocities so bad that you can just about comprehend them but your brain cannot cope with them emotionally. This is a family newspaper and I don’t want to go into too much detail about the horrors — but I can assure you that sometimes the acts are subhuman. Such terrible images are hard for us to identify with. But I am hoping that through the power of music more and more people will become aware of it. I’ve teamed up with a load of other musicians to try to help through the charity War Child. I asked Duffy to cover my song Live And Let Die for a new album that also has really great young acts including Estelle, Elbow and Lily Allen doing covers. I love the fact that all these great musicians are taking part. It is important because it brings awareness of the atrocities in these war zones to a whole new audience who may otherwise never have known about them. For young kids, if you’ve got your head in a video game you may not see this kind of stuff. But if one of your favourite singers makes you aware of it then it’s a positive. Young people are not thick. They are very aware and this puts the issue into focus and shines a spotlight on the bad stuff. It also eats away at the horrors and alleviates some of the pain by raising money to help these kids. The proceeds from the album will help rescue children from fighting in brutal wars around the world. The War Child charity is rescuing a lot of these kids and reuniting them with their parents, or in some cases getting them out of brutal prisons they share with adult inmates. Basically, they try to give these kids a chance of having a childhood like you and I are familiar with. A lot of people scoff and say music cannot change the world. You can certainly make a case that it doesn’t. After all, we all listen to music but there are still all sorts of brutality and atrocities taking place on this planet. But I think it can really make a difference. THE War Child: Heroes album is available on iTunes