DRC: Hundreds Of Children On The Frontline In North Kivu

New York, 14 December – Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, voices her grave concern over the intensive fighting in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its terrible consequences for children.

“The consequences of conflict on children are always appalling and the situation in North Kivu seems, unfortunately, to have become one of the worst recently. Sexual violence used as weapon of war is widespread and children are being used on the frontline. The number of reported cases of recruitment and re-recruitment by Laurent Nkunda’s armed forces and by the Front démocratique de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) are increasing dramatically”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy.

In the past few months, 400,000 Congolese civilians, including thousands of children, have been forced to flee their villages to escape the fighting and attempted recruitment targeting public spaces such as schools. Yet the UN Monitoring Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict established by Security Council Resolution 1612 noted that young people and children were surprisingly underrepresented in some internally displaced populations. UN monitors found out that families were subjected to intimidation to give their children to armed groups, and are therefore trying to hide them from forced recruitment. New reports also indicate that formerly demobilized children have been re-recruited.

Ms. Coomaraswamy reiterated the message of the UN Task Force urging all armed groups to immediately stop recruiting children and to release those in their ranks to child protection agencies.

“The violations against children committed by Laurent Nkunda’s armed forces, the FDLR and allied militias in North Kivu must stop and perpetrators must be held accountable”, said the UN Special Representative.

In this regard, Ms. Coomaraswamy welcomes the Nairobi Communiqué as well as the efforts of the Government of DRC to establish a legitimate State authority in Eastern DRC with the support of MONUC. She also calls upon them to pay special attention to the protection of children who are especially vulnerable in such situation of armed conflict.

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For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gerard, Liaison Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, UN, New York. Phone: +1 212 963 0984 – E-mail: gerardl@un.org