KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The recruitment of children as soldiers for militia groups remains "endemic" in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations report says.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the eastern DRC said Thursday that almost 1,000 cases of child recruitment have been verified between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2013. Most occurred in North Kivu province.
"Despite awareness raising campaigns and attempts to pacify armed groups, recruitment of children remains endemic in the country, with high numbers of children recruited in the past two years as a result of renewed hostilities in the east of the country," the report said.
Most of the children were kidnapped and forced to fight or to work as porters, guards, spies, cooks or sex slaves, the report said. A few agreed to join after being promised money and food.
Children forced into militia groups have typically witnessed horrendous crimes, the report said, and in some cases have participated in them.
The mission urged the government of the DRC to require that all groups seeking to join with its regular army be screened for the presence of child soldiers and forced to release any that are found.