New York, 7 November 2008 – “Children are increasingly victimized and traumatized by the recurrent hostilities in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She urges the parties to the conflict to halt fighting and to take all necessary measures to protect civilians including children.

“The population in the Kivus is terribly vulnerable, especially children. They have to flee the fighting, are internally displaced and are subject to extreme violence”, stated Ms. Coomaraswamy.

The Special Representative raised specific concerns about the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and child soldiering. “Widespread recruitment of children by the troops of Laurent Nkunda and the Mai Mai continues. Forcing them to participate in the hostilities is a war crime”, she underlined.

Ms. Coomaraswamy welcomed the High-level Summit Meeting in Nairobi and urges international community to ensure robust peacekeeping to protect civilians. “All necessary measures should be taken to stop the suffering of the population, especially children. The protection of the most vulnerable should be an integral part of the peace negotiations including the immediate release of all children associated with fighting forces as a priority”, concludes Ms. Coomaraswamy.

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