Child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

During the first and second civil conflicts which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), all sides involved in the war actively recruited or conscripted child soldiers, known locally as Kadogos which is a Swahili term meaning "little ones".[1] It has been estimated that the militia led by Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was 30 percent children. In 2011 it was estimated that 30,000 children were still operating with armed groups.[2] The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), released a report in 2013 which stated that between 1 January 2012 and 31 August 2013 up to 1,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, and described the recruitment of child soldiers as "endemic".[3]

The former president Laurent Kabila had used children in the conflict from 1996 onwards and it was estimated that up to 10,000 children, some aged only seven years old, served under him.[4]

The International Criminal Court (ICC), in the first trials held on human rights violations in the DRC, led to the first indictments, the first trials and the first convictions, in national jurisprudence for the use of children in combat.[5]

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