child soldier

Scores of exploited children have been rescued from a life of conflict and fighting  in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a UN Mission in the African nation.

The 82 children, including 13  girls were rescued from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group in the southeastern Katanga province, who had “recruited” the children in the past 6 months.

Forty of them have been reunited with their parents. The others are being cared for until they can be returned home, the statement said.

Child protection agencies in the province orchestrated the rescues, according to a statement released by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO).

They were identified and separated through concerted efforts by child protection agencies working together in Kibwela, Moba Territory, and Kayumba, Manono Territory – all in Katanga province.

Martin Kobler, who heads up MONUSCO said: “Children face unacceptable risks when they are recruited for military purposes. The recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account.”

Since the start of the year, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been rescued from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga by child protection agencies in the country and MONUSCO.

The mineral-rich country has been in conflict for over a decade now thanks to post-colonial invasions from countries such as Belgium and the assassination of democratically elected presidents.

Minerals such as diamonds and coltan have been extracted by Western mining corporations in the country and has helped to fuel further violence from armed groups who have fought for control over the resources.

All of this has helped to spark ongoing ethnic conflicts involving neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda. Meanwhile, efforts to rescue children who have been kidnapped by these groups have been ongoing and as a result, families have been reunited.

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