KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The U.N. Children's Fund has taken into custody more than 200 former child soldiers released from rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The rebel National Congress for the People's Defense and other militants in DR Congo's volatile North Kivu province have taken an estimated 2,000 children and forced them to become soldiers.
The United Nations has been working to secure the release of the children as a requirement for a fragile peace process in the country, the United Nations reported.
Officials say UNICEF has taken custody of more than 200 children since the end of January.
John Holmes, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, began a four-day trip in DR Congo Friday to "advocate concrete steps to end the violence in eastern Congo along with abuse of civilians, including sexual violence against women," the release said.