Democratic Republic of the Congo

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/67/845–S/2013/245) issued on 15 May 2013.

The resurgence of conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo following the creation of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) in April 2012 resulted in a marked increase in the number of grave violations against children. The M23 offensive stemmed from the defection of a significant number of commanding officers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, affecting the capacity of the Congolese security forces. The vacuum left by those troops contributed to an overall climate of lawlessness and insecurity characterized by widespread, systematic and violent attacks against civilians by a variety of armed groups, including the fragmented constellation of self-defence militias commonly known as Raïa Mutomboki, which, together with the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), was responsible for reciprocal retaliatory attacks.

In 2012, 578 children, including 26 girls, were recruited into armed forces and armed groups. The main perpetrators were Mai Mai groups (263), including the Mai Mai groups under the command of “Colonel Tawimbi” operating in the area of Uvira (116), the Mai Mai groups under the command of “General Lafontaine” and former Patriotes résistants congolais (PARECO) elements (29), the Mai Mai Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) of “Colonel Janvier” (21) and other Mai Mai groups. Other perpetrators included FDLR (83), M23 (65), the Front de résistance patriotique en Ituri/Front populaire pour la justice au Congo (FRPI/FPJC) (52) and LRA (31). Some 80 per cent of the recruitment cases in 2012 took place in North Kivu and South Kivu.

The country task force documented 20 cases of recruitment and use of children by the national armed forces in 2012, including nine boys who were integrated into the national armed forces from Mai Mai groups or recruited by former Congrès national pour la défense du peuple elements who later defected to join the M23 offensive. In addition, 47 boys were arrested and detained by the Congolese security forces for alleged association with armed groups, but were subsequently released after strong advocacy by the United Nations. Most of the arrests took place in North Kivu, mainly involving boys formerly associated with M23. The children were detained by the national armed forces for up to seven months, with some reporting ill-treatment in detention.

M23 was responsible for systematic recruitment and use of children. A total of 65 boys between 13 and 17 years of age, including 25 who claimed to be Rwandan, escaped or surrendered from M23 between April and December 2012. A total of 21 of those boys, including 18 claiming to be Rwandan and 3 Congolese, said that they had been recruited on Rwandan territory to fight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While initially used as porters, most ended up on the battlefield as combatants or escorts of commanders. Testimonies from former M23 combatants suggested that hundreds of children remained in M23. They also reported a high number of child casualties during clashes with the national armed forces and killing, maiming and ill-treatment of young recruits within M23.

As a direct result of conflict-related violence, 154 children (including 86 boys and 64 girls) were killed and 113 (including 76 boys and 35 girls) injured in 2012. Between April and September 2012, Raïa Mutomboki killed and maimed children in their houses with machetes during a series of violent attacks against the civilian population in Masisi territory, North Kivu. A coalition composed of FDLR and Nyatura opposing Raïa Mutomboki was reportedly responsible for 51 child casualties. The national armed forces were responsible for 30 child casualties. During clashes with M23 on 28 October in Sake, North Kivu, five children were injured and two killed by mortars fired by the national armed forces. Other perpetrators were Mai Mai groups (30 casualties), M23 (7 casualties), the Congolese National Police (6 casualties) and LRA (2 casualties).

During the reporting period, 185 girls, most of whom were between 15 and 17 years of age, were subjected to rape or other forms of sexual violence. A total of 11 were under 10 years of age. More than half of the cases were perpetrated in the Kivus. The national armed forces were responsible for 102 cases, including an incident of mass rape. In November 2012, national armed forces elements raped more than 100 female victims, including at least 24 girls, in Minova, South Kivu, as they retreated following the fall of Goma to M23. In another mass rape incident in June 2012, members of Mai Mai Simba raped 28 girls between 10 and 17 years of age in Epulu, Orientale Province. A total of 81 other cases of sexual violence against children were recorded in Orientale Province, mainly perpetrated by Mai Mai elements (50, including 42 by Mai Mai Simba), FRPI (17) and FDLR (11).

In 2012, the country task force documented 33 incidents affecting schools (18) and hospitals (15). Most took place in North Kivu (16), South Kivu (11) and Orientale Province (6). Six schools were looted or damaged in arson attacks by armed groups. The national armed forces were responsible for the military use of 11 schools and FDLR for 1 school. In addition, 11 health providers were targeted during the reporting period: 6 in North Kivu, 3 in South Kivu and 2 in Orientale Province. The national armed forces were reportedly responsible for five incidents of looting of medical facilities, while FDLR reportedly pillaged a health centre and abducted a nurse who had denounced a rape perpetrated by FDLR elements. In two separate incidents in July and October 2012, LRA looted two health centres in Orientale Province.

During the reporting period, the country task force documented 256 incidents of denial of humanitarian access. North Kivu was the most affected, with a total of 123 cases, mainly in and around Goma, Masisi and Rutshuru territories as a result of clashes between M23 and the national armed forces. In South Kivu, 74 incidents were reported, mostly in and around Bukavu, Fizi and Shabunda. Nine other incidents occurred in Orientale Province. Although in most cases the perpetrators could not be identified, 38 cases were attributed to armed groups, including FDLR, Mai Mai groups and Raïa Mutomboki. Another 26 incidents were attributed to the Congolese security forces.

On 4 October 2012, the Government and the United Nations signed an action plan to halt and prevent the recruitment and use of children, in addition to sexual violence against children, by the national armed forces and security forces. The Government and the United Nations committed themselves to working through a joint technical working group in four areas: the separation and protection of children associated with armed forces and groups; response to child victims; prevention of grave violations against children; and efforts to combat impunity for perpetrators. Progress has been made in the facilitation of unimpeded access for the United Nations to national armed forces battalions and detention centres, resulting in the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups, in addition to the joint screening of new recruits. This exercise prevented 269 children from joining the national armed forces in 2012. The integration of armed groups into the national armed forces continued to represent a useful entry point for the release of children. In October 2012, for example, 49 children were separated during a partial integration of Nyatura elements into the national armed forces in North Kivu.

In 2012, 1,497 children (1,334 boys and 163 girls) were separated or escaped from armed forces and armed groups. Most (1,453) were Congolese, with a further 40 Rwandans, 2 Ugandans (associated with the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), 1 South Sudanese and 1 Central African (both associated with LRA). Children escaped or were released from M23 (656 boys), Mai Mai groups (458 boys and 28 girls), LRA (121 boys and 116 girls), FDLR (211 boys and 1 girl), FRPI (121 boys and 10 girls), the national armed forces (96 boys and 5 girls), Nyatura (70 boys) and Raïa Mutomboki (48 boys). In 2012, 5,584 children associated with armed forces and armed groups received support from the United Nations, as did 5,022 child victims of sexual violence.

While the efforts of the Government to cease underage recruitment are commendable, the lack of accountability for perpetrators of grave violations against children remains of concern. More has to be done to ensure that adult perpetrators are duly prosecuted. Of the 185 cases of rape and sexual violence against children by government security forces documented in 2012, only 40 alleged perpetrators were arrested and 4 sentenced. A further 12 commanders involved in the Minova mass rape incident were removed from their posts and handed over to justice.

Parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005). (a, c)
  2. Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) (a, c, d)
  3. Front de résistance patriotique en Ituri/Front populaire pour la justice au Congo (FRPI/FPJC) (a, c)
  4. Mai Mai Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) “Colonel Janvie (a)
  5. Mai Mai “Lafontaine” and former elements of the Patriotes résistants congolais (PARECO) (a)
  6. Mai Mai Simba “Morgan” (c)
  7. Mai Mai “Tawimbi” (a)
  8. Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) (a, c)

(*) The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators. (a) Parties that recruit and use children. (c) Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children. (d) Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.