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A child soldier rides back to his base in the Ituri District of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003

A child soldier rides back to his base in the Ituri District of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. Photo by Marcus Bleasdale/VII

Marcus Bleasdale is a British documentary photographer with the VII Photo Agency. His work has been shown at the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the United Nations, the UK Houses of Parliament, and many museums around the world. His work has been recognized by, among others, the UNICEF Photographer of the Year Award, Pictures of the Year International's Magazine Photographer of the Year and Photo Book of the Year awards. He has published two books: One Hundred Years of Darkness and The Rape of a Nation.

"This boy is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He became a fighter as a preteen, an 11-year-old forced to carry a Kalashnikov while he was still so small that he couldn't even ride a man's bike. He killed and was nearly killed many times.

"To me, this image screams the need to address the injustice of the child soldier. Children fight in wars around the world. They are forced to kill and die so that adults might gain wealth and power. This is everything we should be fighting against."