More than 3,000 children recruited in DR Congo in 2017 – UNICEF

At least 1.3 million people have been displaced amid deepening violence in Democratic Republic of Congo and more than 3,000 cases of child recruitment were verified in 2017, according to new UNICEF research.

The report says over 800,000 children in Tanganyika and South Kivu provinces are now displaced while recruitment by armed groups remains worryingly prevalent, with more than 3,000 cases identified in 2017.

Meanwhile, UNICEF and its partners also identified more than 800 cases of sexual abuse against children.

The charity’s communications head Yves Willemot told The Independent: “The most important thing is these children are being denied the chance to be a child - it affects their long-term development and opportunities."

Our projects continue to support returning girl soldiers in the country and to date we have helped 177 girls return to education in eastern DRC and was recently featured in a NewsDeeply article.

Arab coalition hands over 27 child soldiers to Yemen government

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has handed over 27 child soldiers to the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Saudi government media office said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The children were taken prisoner during fighting with the Iran-allied Houthi militia on the border of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh’s Center for International Communication said, citing an unnamed official source.

“Houthi coup militias are forcing Yemeni children and youths to fight, pushing them to battlefronts and using them in failed operations,” the statement said.

Human Rights Watch had said in past reports that both sides of the Yemen conflict have deployed child soldiers. Armed groups and the government in Yemen were both listed in the UN Secretary-General’s 2017 annual report for using child soldiers.

Somalia: Al-Shabab Demanding Children

The continued recruitment of children by Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia was further exposed in January as Human Rights Watch released new research from the country.

Residents in Somalia’s Bay region, north-west of the capital Mogadishu, told HRW that militants have ordered them to hand over dozens of children aged nine to 15, while the targeting of schools also persists in a recruitment drive which HRW says is ‘increasingly aggressive’.

“Al-Shabab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at HRW said. “To escape that cruel fate, many children have fled school or their homes.”

Former child soldier in Myanmar will face trial

A former child soldier arrested after giving a media interview in Myanmar was dealt a blow in January after a court ruled that prosecutors can pursue a case again him, DVB reported.

Aung Ko Htwe, who was a child recruit in Myanmar’s military, was arrested in August after giving a media interview about his experiences in the Tatmadaw which authorities believed breached section 505(b) of the Penal Code and is offensive against the State.

It is unclear when the next court proceedings are scheduled to start. If convicted, the 26-year-old faces up to two years in prison.

Speaking to Frontier Myanmar about the case in September, Child Soldiers International’s programme manager Tim Molyneux said: “Attempting to silence Aung Ko Htwe with dubious criminal charges for speaking out about his experience flies in the face of Myanmar’s obligation to end the use of child soldiers.

January by numbers