Kinshasa — AT least 100 children have been killed and 400 others arrested in the ongoing anarchy in the Democratic republic of Congo. More than 1 000 cases of children, often younger than 15, are used as combatants or human shields after recruitment as soldiers in the conflict ravaging the Kasai Province. The living conditions of detained children are precarious, with reports of torture rife in the cells. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, between 40 percent and 60 percent of the militia members involved in running battles with the national army are children. The minors are the worst affected by the violence ensuing after soldiers the killed traditional chief Kamuina Nsapu over a dispute erupted between and the national government of President Joseph Kabila over claims regarding customary law, natural resources and land issues. More than 3 300 civilians have been killed and1,4 million people displaced from their homes. Some 1 400 cases of sexual violence have been registered; children, the vast majority adolescent girls aged 12 to 17, account for 68 percent of survivors of sexual violence. The conflict is raging in nine of the country's 26 provinces and the consequences have also extended to Angola, where 500 refugees arrive daily. Meanwhile, over 400 attacks against schools and 210 attacks against health centres have been verified in the Kasai, depriving children of safe zones. Unicef said 7 million children will be at severe risk of violence, abuse,and exploitation while upcoming elections and related unrest were likely to further complicate matters. "The population and particularly the children live in a state of strong psychosocial distress," a spokesperson said.
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