Kinshasa, 16 August 2013 – The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) welcomes the separation, on 11 and 15 August 2013, of 82 children, including 13 girls, from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group. The children, aged between 8 and 17 years old, were identified and separated through concerted efforts of child protection agencies working together in Kibwela, Moba Territory, and Kayumba, Manono Territory all in Katanga Province. They had reportedly been recruited during the past six months by elements of Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga. Forty of those children were immediately reunited with their families, while the remaining are receiving interim care pending reunification.
“We are extremely concerned by continued reports of active recruitment by Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga and other armed groups in eastern DRC”, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, said. “Children face unacceptable risks when they are recruited for military purposes. The recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account”.
Since the beginning of the year, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been separated from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga by MONUSCO and child protection partners.