DR Congo: child soldiers leave armed groups following Geneva Call’s awareness-raising efforts
1 February 2017
More than 40 children have recently left armed non-State actors operating in North Kivu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of them come from three armed non-State actors that Geneva Call has been engaging on the ban of child soldiers for more than a year.
After their release, the children sought protection from a Congolese organization specializing in the protection and demobilization of children. MONUSCO, the United Nations force in DRC, has since evacuated those kids who wished to participate in the government’s demobilization programme to Goma. Over the next three months they will follow a professional course to prepare for their reintegration into society.
« I joined the group voluntarily, but it’s tough to live in the jungle and I suffered a lot. Now I would like to become a moto-taxi driver » said one of the children to Geneva Call’s partner organization. « Our commanders heard Geneva Call’s messages and helped us to leave » said another former child soldier.
« The recruitment of child soldiers – forced or on a voluntarily basis – is very common in North Kivu where dozens of armed actors operate. These releases are a positive sign and we hope that other actors will follow. » declared Marie Lequin Coutin Geneva Call’s acting Head of Africa region. According to the United Nations monitoring mechanism, the number of child soldiers recruited by armed non-State actors has decreased over the last few years.
The achievement of a two-year process with the APCLS
In November 2016, the APLCS made a public undertaking to totally ban the use of child soldiers by signing the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict in the Alabama Room with Geneva Call and the Canton and Republic of Geneva.