Democratic Republic of the Congo

Children, Not Soldiers: DRC Fact Sheet

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/69/926–S/2015/409) issued on 5 June 2015.

The situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remained volatile and witnessed major political and security developments, including a series o f military operations against armed groups. Since October, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) increased their attacks against civilians in Beni Territory and committed a series of massacres.

The United Nations documented 241 new cases of recruitment (223 boys, 18 girls), while a large backlog of children separated by national partners is still under verification. Recruitment was carried out by Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) (63), Nyatura (32), Rayia Mutomboki (19), Union des patriotes congolais pour la paix (UPCP) (17), Forces de résistance patriotiques en Ituri (FRPI) (16), LRA (13), Nduma Defence Coalition/Cheka (NDC/Cheka) (13), Mayi Mayi Alliance pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) (7) and other Mayi Mayi groups (61). Seventy-five per cent of those cases occurred in North Kivu. At least 57 children were used as combatants. Of the 18 girls, 8 were victims of sexual violence. One 17-year-old boy was recruited and used in combat by the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) in Rutshuru Territory. He was separated during a screening by the United Nations in a FARDC training camp in Bas-Congo in April.

Despite two Government directives, children continued to be arrested and detained for their association with armed groups. The United Nations secured the release of 121 children (110 boys, 11 girls) from FARDC, police and military prosecutor detention centres. Forty per cent of the children reported being subjected to ill-treatment during detention.

A total of 80 children (52 boys, 28 girls) were killed and 92 maimed (48 boys, 44 girls), mostly during violent attacks by armed groups targeting civilians. Thirty – eight per cent of child casualties occurred during brutal attacks by ADF in Beni Territory, in which at least 250 persons, including 35 children, were massacred with machetes, knives, hammers or axes. In another significant incident, inter-ethnic violence between the Bafuliru and Barundi/Banyamulenge in June claimed the lives of at least 12 children, including two babies, in Mutarule. Forty children (16 boys, 24 girls) were respectively killed and maimed by explosive remnants of war.

The United Nations documented 334 cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence (332 girls, 2 boys), a significant increase compared with 2013. State agents perpetrated 30 per cent of the documented violations (99). The remaining cases were perpetrated by Mayi-Mayi Simba (50), FDLR (39), Nyatura (24), Rayia Mutomboki (23), FRPI (22), APCLS (14), and other armed groups (63).

Twenty-two schools were attacked and twelve were used for military purposes, affecting over 31,000 children. In Shabunda Territory, ten schools militarily used by the FARDC (four) and Rayia Mutomboki (six) were destroyed or looted and their materials burned during clashes in April. Other schools were attacked by ADF, FDLR, UPCP and other armed groups. Nineteen hospitals were also attacked or looted by the FARDC (8), Rayia Mutomboki (2), and ADF (2), NDC/Cheka (2), APCLS (2) and unidentified armed groups (3). Following advocacy by the United Nations, two schools used by FARDC to host FDLR surrenders were vacated in September.

Armed groups abducted 108 children (65 boys, 43 girls), 55 per cent out of whom were below the age of 15, mostly in Orientale (59) and North Kivu (30). The main perpetrators were LRA (34), ADF (20), Mayi Mayi Simba (18), Rayia Mutomboki (17) and other armed groups (19). At least 11 abductees were used as combatants and 22 girls were subjected to sexual slavery.

Seven incidents of denial of humanitarian access were documented in North and South Kivu, perpetrated by ADF (3), FARDC (1) and other armed groups (3). Three NGO staff members and one United Nations staff member were killed and two humanitarian workers abducted by ADF. Challenges to humanitarian access persist, owing mainly to a volatile security situation, increased criminal activities and ongoing military operations.

At least 1,030 children were separated from armed groups (973 boys, 57 girls). Most of them children had been recruited in 2013 (441) and 2012 (220), and 31 per cent were below the age of 15 at the time of their recruitment. A total of 166 children were separated from FDLR, 140 from Nyatura, 124 from Rayia Mutomboki, 97 from FRPI and other armed groups (503). In relation to the response on sexual violence, UNICEF partners assisted 863 child survivors of sexual violence, a major decrease from 2013, owing largely to lack of funding.

In August and September, FARDC, with support from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, conducted “Opération sauvetage” to provide medical evacuation and assistance to ADF dependants abandoned following military operations. A total of 71 persons, including 60 children, were rescued. Forty per cent of them had been used as combatants and are receiving reintegration support. Some had sustained bullet wounds and all were severely malnourished.

Despite security challenges and instability, the Government consistently demonstrated its commitment and ownership with regard to the implementation of the action plan signed with the United Nations in 2012 to end the recruitment and use of children, by funding and chairing joint coordination mechanisms and ensuring their decentralization to conflict-affected provinces. The Vice-Prime Minister/Minister of Defence also submitted to the United Nations two progress reports on the implementation of the action plan. In July, the President, Joseph Kabila appointed Jeannine Mabunda Liyoko as his Personal Adviser on sexual violence and child recruitment. With United Nations support, the Government also conducted awareness-raising activities. From 30 November to 4 December, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and travelled to Kinshasa and Goma. The Working Group welcomed the progress made by the Government in implementing the action plan and encouraged it to sustain its efforts, particularly aspects rel ated to the fight against impunity and sexual violence.

Progress was made in the fight against impunity with the arrest and prosecution of 61 individuals (46 FARDC, 10 Police nationale congolais, 5 leaders of armed groups). Thirty-five were convicted and received sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment, including Lieutenant Colonel Bedi Mobuli Engangela, alias “106” and General Jerome Kakwavu, two of the five high -ranking FARDC officers. All but one were convicted for the crime of sexual violence against children. Four armed group leaders are currently awaiting trial, including on charges of child recruitment. FARDC Brigadier General Goda Supka Emery was indicted by the High Military Court in Kinshasa with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the recruitment of children. The President also promulgated an Amnesty Law in February, excluding the crimes of recruitment of children and sexual violence from amnesty.

I welcome these positive developments and encourage the Governme nt of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to sustain its efforts to end and prevent all violations against children.

Parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

1.        Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)a,b,d
2.       Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC)a,c,*
3.       Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR)a,c,d
4.       Front de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI)a,c,d
5.       Mayi Mayi Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) “Colonel Janvier”a
6.       Mayi Mayi “Lafontaine” and former elements of the Patriotes résistants congolais (PARECO)a
7.       Mayi Mayi Simba “Morgan”a,c
8.       Mayi Mayi Kata Katangaa
9.     Nduma Defence Coalition (NDC)/Chekaa,b
10.     Mayi Mayi Nyaturaa

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.

*This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).