North Kivu: MONUSCO trains Congolese security forces and services to protect children in armed conflict
As part of activities related to the protection of children in armed conflict, MONUSCO's Child Protection Section organized a training workshop on December 9 and 10, 2020 for the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) of the 34th military region and the security services based in Goma.
In 2003, the FARDC were placed on the United Nations Secretary-General’s blacklist of parties to the conflict that recruit and use children. Nine years later, in 2012, the FARDC were listed for sexual violence as well.
Since that time, the DRC government has committed to getting off the blacklist by putting an end to grave violations of children's rights in the context of armed conflict. To mark this commitment, on October 4, 2012, the government of the DRC signed an Action Plan with the United Nations system to combat the recruitment and use of children and other grave child rights violations.
Since the signing of the Action Plan, the DRC government, with the support of MONUSCO and its partners, has made significant progress in implementing it. As a result of these efforts, in November 2017, the FARDC were removed from the UN Secretary-General's blacklist for child recruitment. To date, the UN Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict in the DRC has not documented any cases of child recruitment and use attributable to the FARDC; all cases are committed exclusively by armed groups operating in eastern DRC. Nevertheless, to date, the FARDC remain on the UN blacklist for sexual violence against children
Strengthening the skills of officers in charge of protection of civilians
In his opening speech, Omar Aboud, head of the MONUSCO Goma office, indicated that "this training has a twofold objective: to strengthen the skills of law enforcement and civilian protection officers, and also to accelerate the implementation of the Action Plan for the fight against violations of children's rights, particularly rape and sexual violence”. He also welcomed the commitment of the provincial authorities of North Kivu through the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) to "contribute to the protection of children in armed conflict and also the involvement of the judicial authorities who spare no effort to arrest, try and sentence the perpetrators of violations of the rights of the child (...) in order to put an end to impunity.”
For his part, General Bokolomba, Deputy Commander of the 34th Military Region, said: "The FARDC are firmly committed to accompanying all partners involved in this struggle to eradicate these scourges that expose children, in accordance with the Action Plan signed in 2012". He added that "even if visible efforts have been made by the authorities of our country to get out of the blacklist by putting an end to serious violations of children's rights during armed conflict, enormous steps are also being taken to ensure that the DRC is removed from the UN blacklist for sexual violence against children. The political-military authorities of the DRC will henceforth make this their main concern".
The government has therefore made a commitment to continue to work to capitalize on the results obtained in the implementation of the action plan and to put an end to sexual violence in order to secure the removal of the FARDC from the blacklist. This commitment is carried out, notably, through the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) on Children and Armed Conflict.
It is within this framework that MONUSCO's Child Protection Section, in collaboration with the authorities of North Kivu Province and the JTWG, organized this awareness-raising and training campaign for FARDC officers from the 34th military region and the Sukola II operational sector, the Congolese National Police (PNC), and security services, including the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) and the General Directorate of Migration (DGM).
The trainers for this awareness session were MONUSCO officers from the Child Protection, Human Rights (UNJHRO) and Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Resettlement of Armed Groups (DDRRR) sections, as well as UNICEF and the Congolese military justice system.