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Children leaving armed groups in DRC

Sept. 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The United Nations said more than 500 children were demobilized from armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo since March.

Members of the rebel March 23 Movement in DRC are suspected of war crimes, including the conscription of child soldiers. The group seized control over parts of eastern DRC last year and conflict in the region has escalated recently.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement hundreds of children left armed groups in DRC during the last five months.

"[An] awareness campaign calling for children to leave armed groups succeeded in demobilizing 557 children between March and August," the organization said Wednesday.

Leila Zerrougui, U.N. special envoy on children in armed conflict, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this week conflict in the region resulted in more recruitment of child soldiers.

The DRC signed an action plan to end recruitment of child soldiers. UNICEF said, however, there are approximately 1,500 children in the ranks of armed groups in DRC.

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