DR.Congo youth ‘forcibly recruited’ by militias
KINSHASA — Rogue army officers, local militias and Rwandan Hutu rebels have been forcibly recruiting hundreds of young men and boys in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
The New York-based rights watchdog said the wave of recruitment, which began in September, “signals a possible collapse in eastern Congo’s peace process.”
HRW said it had interviewed dozens of escaped recruits, as well as teachers and local officials, who had described the forced or underaged recruitment of more than 1,000 young men and boys, including at least 261 minors, since September.
“Armed groups in eastern Congo are pulling youths from schools, homes and fields and forcing them to fight,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, HRW’s senior Africa researcher, said in a statement. “The Congolese government should urgently stop this recruitment and prosecute those responsible.”
HRW said the recruitment was taking place in the Nord and Sud Kivu provinces by the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a former rebel group that integrated into the Congolese army in early 2009, as well as by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a predominantly Rwandan Hutu rebel group, and by local Mai Mai militias.