UN mission welcomes release of children by armed group in DR Congo

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New York, US – The UN Organisation Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has welcomed the release of 82 children from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group through the joint efforts of aid agencies working in the country.

A statement by the mission on Friday said that the children, 69 boys and 13 girls between the ages of 8 and 17, had reportedly been recruited during the past six months by elements of Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga.

They were identified and separated through concerted efforts by child protection agencies working together in Kibwela, Moba Territory, and Kayumba, Manono Territory, all in Katanga province.

About half of the children were immediately reunited with their families, while the others were receiving interim care pending reunification, it said.

“We are extremely concerned by continued reports of active recruitment by Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga and other armed groups in eastern DRC,” PANA quoted Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO as saying.

He noted that children faced unacceptable risks when they were recruited for military purposes, and the recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account.

The mission stated that since the beginning of the year, 163 children had been separated from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga by MONUSCO and child protection partners.