See also:
» 13.10.2010 - Wanted Congo warlord "walks freely in Goma"
» 15.02.2010 - Children still recruited into DRC’s war ranks
» 16.10.2009 - UN expert calls for independent investigation into DRC killings
» 09.09.2009 - Commissioner calls for urgent reforms in DRC’s security
» 31.08.2009 - UNICEF head visits children traumatised by DRC war
» 25.08.2009 - UNICEF grants DR Congo $500.000
» 05.03.2009 - UN demobilises 880 children in DRC
» 26.01.2009 - Congo warlord denies war crimes

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Congo Kinshasa
Human rights | Politics

DRC forces still recruit child soldiers

afrol News, 1 October - Armed forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are still recruiting child soldiers, Amnesty International has said in a report.

AI said children who were released and reunited with their families, have been recaptured by armed forces for their valuable experience as young combatants in North Kivu.

Report further said women and children still endure both physical and sexual abuse despite government and armed groups' commitments to end such practices.

Report author Andrew Philip estimates that there are up to a million people displaced in the troubled DRC province, because of never ending violence and conflict.

"We have daily reports of rapes, killings of civilians and continued abductions of children for use as child soldiers," said Mr Philip. "This continuing conflict comes despite the fact that there is a peace process in eastern DRC which has never really got off the ground."

However, since official end to conflict in greater Congo in 2003, Mr Philip said great strides have been made to demobilise up to 30,000 child soldiers from various armed groups but he points out that is not the case in North Kivu.

"The more they know, the more they are at risk of re-recruitment. In this case, experience can be deadly," report added.

Citing witnesses, report said some child soldiers who attempted to escape were beaten to death in front of others to discourage them from doing so. Others also reported ill-treatment and torture.

Mr Phillip also highlighted that armed groups and government army are responsible for widespread rapes and sexual violence reported.

"I think possibly we also need much more focus in UN peacekeeping operations on the plight of women and children in eastern DRC so that peacekeeping operations take more account of their vulnerability to attack by armed groups," he said.

The research also shows that half of the children who have been demobilised and reunited with their families have since been recruited back into the frontline. Some of these children had already been integrated into societies and are attending school.

The war officially ended in 2003 in DRC and great strides have been made since. Up to 30 000 children from various armed groups have been demobilised, however, North Kivu remains a worrying factor, particularly with the recent intensification of violence in the region.

North Kivu, near Congo's eastern border, erupted into violence in August last year in the worst fighting since the official end of the civil war in 2003. With a ceasefire agreement signed in January repeatedly broken, UN peacekeepers have been unable to stop the 20,000 government troops and several thousand rebel fighters from brutalising the civilian population.

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