The conflict in Congo is affecting children severely and the international community needs to be much more vocal about the use of children as soldiers. According to this BBC article, children are being kidnapped by rebel fighters and forced to fight against government forces. This form of human trafficking is all too common in conflict stricken nations.
In the last few months, fighting between the Congolese army and rebels has escalated, and more and more children are being kidnapped to bolster numbers amongst the various militia.
Jean Vierre was one of a group of 10 ambushed some two weeks ago.
He, his six classmates and three teachers were abducted in what appears to be a well-planned attempt to find new recruits.
“When we got to the camps, the rebels told to join the military forces. They took us and threw us in a hole. We were given military outfits and told we had to wear them,” explains Jean Claude [not his real name].
Forced recruitment of child soldiers is nothing new in DR Congo, but Save the Children’s Beverley Roberts believes the armed militia groups are now targeting entire schools or groups of students.
“We know that they’re being used as porters, that’s very clear. We have reports of children having to transport arms right now. That’s very disturbing,” she says.
“Unfortunately also you’ll have the children sexually abused in these groups. Those are clearly some of the worst cases and then yes they are used as fighters, they might be trained as fighters – all sorts of uses. I mean you can only imagine.”