This briefing was submitted to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on 22 July in order to provide an assessment of progress made since the 2010 Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as recommendations for further actions, with regard to compliance with the 2012 Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children as well as other grave child rights violations by the armed and security forces of the DRC.
The briefing reveals that notable steps were taken to end the use of child soldiers in the DRC armed forces since the Secretary-General's previous report , but that child recruitment incidents increased significantly in 2012 due to renewed conflict in the east and have remained high since. The main perpetrators are armed groups (Congolese and foreign).
Worryingly, boys and girls were also recruited into the national armed forces (FARDC) in 2012-2013, including through integration. In addition, in late 2013 the armed forces and intelligence services detained and interrogated large numbers of children suspected of association with armed groups in violation of government policy.
Re-recruitment is common due to the recurring nature of armed conflict and armed group mobilisation, as well as ongoing weaknesses in reintegration assistance programmes. These remain vastly under-funded and too scarce to accommodate demand – especially after the defeat of the “M23” and the subsequent surrender of many armed groups swelled the numbers of demobilised child soldiers.
Although girls are still recruited and used in great numbers, securing their release from armed forces and groups, identifying them after they are abandoned by armed groups, or encouraging them to come forward for assistance remains a significant challenge. As a result, a huge proportion of girls and their children are unable to benefit from assistance to recovery and reintegration.
Meanwhile, the crimes of recruitment and use of children have remained entirely unpunished by Congolese justice.
Child Soldiers International has worked in the DRC for over 10 years, using research, advocacy and partnerships with a network of Kivu-based NGOs to promote strategies to prevent the recruitment and use of children.
Download this report here.