Crimes against children
Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of the ongoing crisis in the Congo is the impact that it has had on children. Half of the casualties of the conflict are children who have died either as a direct result of the violence or the subsequent humanitarian crisis due to disease, malnutrition and starvation. Children are often easy recruits to fight as child soldiers or forced into slavery to work in the mines.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo determined to be Tier 3 country for human trafficking is one of the seven countries listed by the United States State Department to be actively using child soldiers as of June 2012. At the height of the Second Congo War in 1998 it was estimated that there were 30,000 children engaged by all parties in the conflict. By most estimations the circumstances are ongoing and a source of serious concern.
“All parties to the conflict in the DRC recruited and used CAAFAG (Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups). Between 1993 and 2003, these and other children were subjected to indescribable violence, including murder, rape, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, forced displacements and the destruction of their villages, and were deprived of all their rights. This situation continues to this day.” 723. UN Mapping Report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993 – 2003 – Published October 2010
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a source, destination, and possibly a transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of this trafficking is internal, and while much of it is perpetrated by armed groups and rogue elements of government forces outside government control in the country’s unstable eastern provinces, incidents of trafficking occur throughout all 11 provinces. A significant number of unlicensed Congolese artisanal miners – men and boys – are reported to be exploited in situations of debt bondage by businesspeople and supply dealers from whom they acquire cash advances, tools, food, and other provisions at inflated prices and to whom they must sell the mined minerals at prices below the market value. The miners are forced to continue to work to repay constantly accumulating debts that are virtually impossible to repay. Throughout the year, in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Katanga Provinces, armed groups – such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – and Congolese national army (FARDC) troops routinely used threats and coercion to force men and children to mine for minerals, turn over their mineral production, pay illegal “taxes,” or carry looted goods from mining villages.” Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, US State Department
Children of Conflict – DRC , Al Jazeera
Congo’s Children, Journeyman Pictures
Breaking the Cycle of Child Labor in DR Congo, UNICEF