To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the prevalence of recruitment of child soldiers in Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
2 March 2022
The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office reports that in 2021 the recruitment of children into armed conflict was the most documented violation of the rights of the child in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 210 cases of abduction of children by armed groups were documented in Ituri in 2021, including by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and CODECO. According to the DRC Protection Cluster, 376 children associated with armed groups were identified and taken into care in 2021. In reality this is likely to be an underestimate and many hundreds more children are still thought to be associated with armed groups in Ituri province. Association with armed groups has significant negative consequences, including exposure to physical and emotional violence, long-term trauma and lost schooling years. We are working with the Government of the DRC to ensure their approach to community-based disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and stabilisation includes a focus on the need to provide tailored support to children associated with armed groups. In addition, UK partners the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund and MONUSCO's Child Protection Section continue to tackle the recruitment of children into armed conflict. To date, 43 commanders of armed groups have officially committed to MONUSCO for the protection of children, through signing a unilateral declaration and roadmap to end the recruitment and use and other serious violations against children.