12 February 2016

Congo-Kinshasa: International Red Hand Day

press release

Kinshasa — MONUSCO committed to ending the recruitment of child soldiers into armed groups.

Maman Sambo Sidikou, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in the DRC, points out that the objective of the celebration of this day is to raise public awareness on the suffering faced by child soldiers around the world and in the Democratic Republic in particular.

« It is regrettable to note that the armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to recruit children in large numbers, thus exposing them to great risks and denying them the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. It is imperative, in the best interest of children, to pool our efforts in order to create a security and judicial environment conducive to prevention and protection of children's rights in the context of the armed conflict in the DRC, » stated the Head of MONUSCO on this occasion.

Fourteen years have passed since the adoption, on 12 February 2002, of the Provisional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the context of armed conflict. The Government of the DRC has made significant progress towards ending the recruitment of children into the armed forces and impunity.

Indeed, they have sent a clear message for the attainment of the zero-tolerance objective regarding the use of children by the armed groups on the territory by issuing warrants of arrest against commanders allegedly responsible for the recruitment of girls and boys. During the year 2015 alone, at least 2 045 children have been separated from armed groups, including 488 freshly recruited.

« These recruitments violate international law and human decency. I am committed to help put an end to these abuses and to support the efforts of the Government to end the recruitment of Child soldiers into the armed groups, » added the Head of MONUSCO.

Note to the Editors:

Since 2002, the « International Red Hand Day » has been celebrated annually on February 12th, marking the anniversary of the signing of a protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that forbids the use of children in conflict.

Despite the existence of this protocol, more than 250, 000 children are still being forced into conflict in at least 17 different countries, including some that have ratified the treaty.

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