Kinshasa — The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, is extremely concerned over persistent reports of child recruitment by armed groups in the DRC and calls on all actors to help stop and prevent this grave violation against children.
According to the report published today, almost 1,000 cases of child recruitment by armed groups were verified by MONUSCO between 1 January 2012 and 31 August 2013, predominantly in North Kivu.
The armed groups Nyatura, Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) were identified as having respectively recruited 190, 137 and 124 children into their group during the reporting period.
Children who were victim of recruitment within the ranks of these armed groups were also victims and witnesses of other grave child rights violations, such as rape, abduction, killing and maiming.
'This situation is unacceptable and has been going on for much too long with impunity. Recruiting children into armed groups is a crime, and destroys the lives of the victims who are forced to do things that no child should be involved in. We need to stop this now. One case of child recruitment is one case to many' said the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler.
MONUSCO vigorously calls on all armed group commanders to immediately stop grave violations perpetrated against children and to unconditionally release all children still held within their ranks.
Child recruitment by Armed Groups in DRC from January 2012 to August 2013
According to the report, in the majority of cases, children were abducted and forced to join the groups. Others joined voluntarily after having been promised money, education, jobs and other benefits by recruiters.
Children were used as porters, cooks, spies, sex slaves, guards and combatants.
Minors formerly associated with the M23 described how they were tasked to bury bodies of adults and children who lost their lives during clashes with the FARDC and other armed groups.
MONUSCO recommends that the Government of RDC, the international community, donors and all child protection actors ensure all efforts are made to prevent child recruitment and to ensure reintegration programmes for the victims are long term and sustainable.