At least 17,500 child soldiers have been rescued from armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2017, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
Edouard Beigbeder, Resident Representative of UNICEF in DR Congo said in a statement on Thursday, March 24, that about 10,000 of the rescued children have benefited from individual or collective reinsertion into their families and communities.
He said in 2021 alone, more than 3,300 children were separated from the armed groups.
“It should be known that when a child is salvaged from armed groups, most times they are brought by the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) or they come directly through a partner organisation – each case is viewed individually,” Beigbeder said.
“It is the individual, it is the child who matters. Everybody has passed through different situations of traumatism during his experience: some were utilised in canteens, some were used as porters, others were part of members who committed acts of violence, some of these children have suffered sexual violence.”
Meanwhile, support towards the socio-economic and educational reintegration of the children continue to pose concerns.
“UNICEF does not have enough resources in the long term to furnish quality and sustainable support. The context of armed conflicts and volatile security, particularly in the eastern provinces, does not also favour the communal approach to reintegration,” the UNICEF official revealed.
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