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US: Nicolas Cage donates $2 million to help end suffering of child soldiers

Actor and filmmaker Nicolas Cage is donating $2 million to establish a fund to help former child soldiers, which will include support for rehabilitation shelters, medical services and psychological and reintegration services, and to support Amnesty International's work on child soldiers.

Amnesty International, a member of the Coalition Against the Use of Child Soldiers, will administer the funds to service providers on the ground. Amnesty International, Oxfam and International Action Network on Small Arms are encouraging the United States to lead efforts to establish strict guidelines on the international transfer of small arms and light weapons.

"We thank Nicolas for his extremely generous contribution," said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's Executive Director. "As an Amnesty International member, Nicolas has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the horrors faced by child soldiers and other human rights tragedies. We commend his efforts and appreciate his generosity."

Cox made the formal announcement last night in New York at a press conference during the United Nations Review Conference on the Program of Action on Small Arms. Cage spoke about his motivation to provide this generous gift via a videotaped statement, shown prior to and during a concert at The Supper Club.

The concert, to raise awareness of the Control Arms Campaign, featured live performances by international stars including four-time Grammy nominee, Angelique Kidjo, South African actor and musician Zola and Colombian band Alma Parlantes, who play guitars made from guns. In addition, testimonies from survivors of armed violence will be read by actresses Rosario Dawson and Piper Perabo.

Nicholas Cage said in his video statement:

"Think about the nine months it took for your child to be born; think about all the care you put into teaching him how to cross the street and look both ways or to read a book or to simply have good manners. Then imagine a warlord dropping a gun into his hand and forcing him to kill someone. He's eight years old. He hasn't kissed a girl yet or fallen in love, but he's killed a man. What does that do to a child's mind? Sounds like a nightmare? It's reality for some families.”

Around the world today, Children's rights are increasingly both war's victims and its combatants. An estimated 300,000 Children's rights under the age of 18 are currently participating in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries on nearly every continent. While most child soldiers are in their teens, some are as young as seven years old.

Cage has been working closely with Amnesty International USA for the past 2 1/2 years. Amnesty International collaborated with Cage and filmmakers on the film Lord of War to raise awareness of the international Control Arms Campaign. Cage also supported AI's Women's rights's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights campaign.

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