Democratic Republic of the Congo

Children, Not Soldiers: DRC Fact Sheet

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/70/836–S/2016/360) issued on 20 April 2016.

The security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ituri, North Kivu and Tanganyika) remained volatile in 2015 and was marked by military operations by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo — FARDC) against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Forces de résistance patriotiques en Ituri (FRPI) and other armed groups. The situation also deteriorated owing to the activities of armed groups and intercommunal clashes. The United Nations verified 2,549 violations against children, a significant increase compared with 2014. Nearly 40 per cent were attributed to FDLR. Children took the opportunity of military operations to escape from armed groups, resulting in a spike in the number of separated children.

The United Nations verified the new recruitment of 488 children (26 girls), of whom 30 per cent were under 15 years of age when recruited. This is more than twice the number of documented cases in 2014. Of the recruitment and use, 89 per cent occurred in North Kivu, and almost half of the children were recruited by FDLR (219), followed by Raia Mutomboki (89), Nyatura (69) and other groups (111). In July, 10 boys who had been recruited in 2013 and 2014 were separated from FARDC and reported that they had participated in military operations in North Kivu in the year of their recruitment. The United Nations engaged with FARDC, which indicated that it had suspended the suspected commanding officers and initiated an investigation, which was continuing at the time of writing (March 2016).

FARDC handed over 139, and the Congolese National Police 8, children formerly associated with armed groups to the United Nations. Ten other children were handed over after they had been detained by FARDC, notwithstanding the two government directives prohibiting the holding of children for alleged association with armed groups. Some had been detained for a few months, but one boy had allegedly been detained for more than a year. At the time of writing (March 2016), the United Nations had identified at least 22 children who were being held without charge in Angenga prison after being encountered in military operations.

At least 80 children were killed and 56 maimed, with most incidents occurring in North Kivu and Ituri. ADF (20), FRPI (19) and FDLR (14) were the main perpetrators among armed groups. A total of 29 children were killed and maimed by FARDC and 9 by the Congolese National Police. Fourteen casualties were attributed to military operations or clashes among armed groups and nine were the result of explosive remnants of war.

The United Nations verified 254 child victims of sexual violence. Armed groups were responsible for the majority of incidents, in particular FRPI (67), Raia Mutomboki (33) and Mayi Mayi Simba (27). FARDC was responsible for 68 cases, the Congolese National Police for 19 and the National Intelligence Agency for 2. A total of 42 FARDC and 11 Congolese National Police elements were arrested following the incidents.

Twenty-six attacks on schools (22) and hospitals (4) were verified. The Twa self-defence group destroyed 10 schools in Tanganyika Province in clashes with the Luba. The remaining attacks were perpetrated by Nyatura (4), FDLR (2) and other armed groups (5). Regarding hospitals, ADF was responsible for two attacks and LRA and FDLR for one each. Most notably, an attack by ADF on Eringeti hospital in Beni territory on 29 November resulted in at least 31 casualties.

Notwithstanding a directive issued in 2013 by the Ministry of Defence prohibiting the practice of military use of schools, 20 schools were used by FARDC. Following advocacy by the United Nations, however, 13 were vacated. Ten schools were also used by armed groups.

A total of 195 reports of abductions were received. Sixty-eight verified cases were attributed mainly to Raia Mutomboki, FRPI and ADF. Girls were reported to have been raped while in captivity, and some 40 per cent of the children are still missing. LRA continued to abduct children; 102 new reports were received in 2015.

Two cases of denial of humanitarian access by Raia Mutomboki were documented in Shabunda territory (South Kivu). In addition, at least 127 incidents of intimidation of and direct attacks on humanitarian organizations and staff were recorded in North Kivu.

Military pressure and radio messages encouraging children to escape contributed to 2,045 children being separated from armed groups, which is twice the number separated in the previous year. Children were separated from FDLR (891), but also from Raia Mutomboki, Nyatura, FRPI, Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka and other armed groups. Ten boys were also separated from FARDC in 2015. Six Burundian boys allegedly recruited in a refugee camp in Rwanda were separated. A report released by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in November demonstrated the plight of girls associated with armed groups. In 257 cases, children associated with armed groups were separated from FARDC bases (Kitona and Kamina) far from where they had been encountered, which delayed and complicated family reunification. In response, the United Nations advocated adherence to agreed principles to separate children where they are encountered by FARDC.

Throughout 2015, the Government maintained its commitment to implementing the action plan signed with the United Nations in 2012, including through the work of the President’s personal adviser on sexual violence and child recruitment. In September, the Minister of Defence endorsed a road map outlining pending activities for the full implementation of the action plan. To accelerate the process, three new provincial joint technical working groups were established. The United Nations provided technical support and screened more than 17,000 FARDC troops. However, it remains a concern that FARDC may not be able to identify minors without assistance, as was the case with the children identified by the United Nations in 2015. It is important that, as part of the implementation of the road map, the standard operating procedure on age assessment, drafted in August, be adopted and implemented country-wide.

Efforts continued by the Government to hold the perpetrators of grave violations accountable. At least 68 individuals, including high-ranking officers of FARDC and the Congolese National Police, were arrested, with 37 receiving sentences of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for sexual violence against girls. Moreover, in August, an FARDC officer was arrested for the alleged recruitment and use of children. Seven leaders of armed groups were arrested on similar charges, including the former FRPI leader, Justin Matata Wanaloki, alias “Cobra Matata”.

I encourage the Government to continue its efforts to implement the action plan by institutionalizing procedures, adopting and disseminating the standard operating procedure on age verification assessment and sustaining its commitment to combating impunity.

Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children involving members of MONUSCO military contingents from South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania were being investigated at the time of writing (March 2016). Two other incidents involving military personnel from Benin and South Africa were substantiated.

Parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. Allied Democratic Forcesa,b,d
  2. Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo)a,c,• This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
  3. Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwandaa,c,d
  4. Forces de résistance patriotiques en Ituria,c,d
  5. Lord’s Resistance Armya,b,c,e
  6. Mayi Mayi Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain “Colonel Janvier”a
  7. Union des patriotes congolais pour la paix (UPCP) also known as Mayi Mayi “Lafontaine”a
  8. Mayi Mayi Simbaa,c
  9. Mayi Mayi Kata Katangaa
  10. Nduma Defence of Congo/Chekaa,b
  11. Mayi Mayi Nyaturaa
  12. Raia Mutombokia,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.
(b) Parties that kill and maim 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.
(e) Parties that abduct children.


annual report summary

Click to read a summary of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict