DRC locals fret over child soldiers

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A U.N. report suggests conscription of child soldiers by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo is higher than official records indicate.

Rebel forces in the M23 militia waged mutiny in DRC in April, leading to widespread displacement in parts of the country. Rwanda is suspected of backing the rebel group, an allegation the government denies.


Barthelemy Schilogolo, director of DRC aid group Peace and Justice for Reconciliation, told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN that M23 stormed a village "and went on searching into houses until they arrested 36 children and (took) them away to train as fighters."

Rebel Gen. Bosco Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court for allegedly conscripting child soldiers to fight in DRC.

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in DRC states at least 26 children were forced into fighting for M23 since April, though IRIN reports the figure may be closer to 100.

"Using children and youth in armed conflict will create generations trained in violence, tearing apart the fabric of Congolese society," head of mission Roger Meece said in a statement.

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