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Thread: Amnesty: 11,000 Congolese child soldiers still missing

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Unhappy Amnesty: 11,000 Congolese child soldiers still missing

    Amnesty: 11,000 Congolese child soldiers still missing
    POSTED: 11:34 a.m. EDT, October 11, 2006


    GOMA, Congo (Reuters) -- Children in Congo are still being recruited by armed groups and authorities are not doing enough to stop ex-child soldiers being sucked back into a life of violence and abuse, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

    The rights group said in a report at least 11,000 children in Democratic Republic of Congo were still in the hands of rebel or militia gangs or unaccounted for three years after the end of a war in which they were captured and forced to fight.

    This was in spite of a program launched by Congo's government two years ago to release child soldiers and reintegrate them into civilian life in the vast, former Belgian colony, Amnesty said.

    "As long as the government and the international community continue to fail to meet the needs of released children, these children are at risk of being quickly redrawn into armed forces or armed groups -- or of being abandoned to an impoverished and forlorn existence," said Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty's Africa program.

    Thousands of children kept ready to go to war again
    Congo is trying to haul itself back to lasting peace after a 1998-2003 conflict called Africa's first world war, which triggered a humanitarian crisis estimated to have killed nearly 4 million people.

    But as the country prepares for an October 29 presidential run-off vote meant to open a new era in its history, thousands of children are still being kept as fighters by armed groups ready to return to war if peace fails, Amnesty said.

    "The government has not only failed to release thousands of children who remain with armed forces or groups -- new child soldiers continue to be recruited, including some who were only recently demobilized," Hondora said in the report.

    Vast majority of girls taken captive unaccounted for
    Girls made up 40 percent of the children taken by armed groups during the war yet the vast majority remained unaccounted for, the rights group said. Some government officials regarded them as "dependants" of adult fighters, who considered them sexual possessions and did not feel obliged to hand them over.


    "To date the government has taken no steps to trace and recover these missing children," Amnesty said.

    Most of those children who had been through the government reintegration scheme -- some of them as young as 6 years old when they were first recruited to fight -- had since received little or no educational support or help readjusting, it said.

    Abuse for girls at soldiers' hands 'is universal'
    Girls at a center for former child soldiers in Goma said they were forced to "marry" their captors or risk being killed.


    "We were in a group of five when we went to fetch some firewood when some soldiers came to pick us up ... I was 15 and was made to become a soldier's wife. I was made pregnant but the child was stillborn," one of the girls, Irene, told Reuters.

    She declined to give her full name.

    "After I was made pregnant again there were clashes and we were dispersed. I made it into the bush, allowing me to escape to a village and find a car ... But my grandmother chased me away from her house as I was the wife of a soldier," she said.

    Martin Muhindi, a child protection officer at aid group Save the Children, said there were various reasons -- including the social stigma -- why many girls had not been accounted for.

    "Some of the commanders are not ready to let them go. Some may have had children with the soldiers so, because of the stigma and society shunning them, they stay with the groups even if they have a chance to flee," he told Reuters.

    "They are mostly used as spies, house girls and sex slaves. They make the soldiers comfortable in whatever way they can. Abuse is universal."

    Amnesty said the new administration after Congo's election run-off needed to make sure former child fighters, who made up some 40 percent of the forces during the war, were protected and given a chance to go to school
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/africa...eut/index.html

    *Horrific information..and nobody in the rest of the world seems to care... *
    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

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    Gold Member ohmygoodness's Avatar
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    It's so abhorrent that these things are allowed to go on in Africa. All only because nothing in Africa is seen as a threat to western life, so the governments just throw money at them but won't make an effort to fix the real problem. It's sad.

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    Elite Member mistify's Avatar
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    EVIL, EVIL ,EVIL....... We are not over there because they are poor and have no oil... Everytime I think of the Congo and this crap I get sick to my stomach.
    "Shit, I think I just confused myself. QUICK! Somebody hand me chalk, a chalkboard and Will Hunting's brain!" michael k -dlisted

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygoodness View Post
    It's so abhorrent that these things are allowed to go on in Africa. All only because nothing in Africa is seen as a threat to western life, so the governments just throw money at them but won't make an effort to fix the real problem. It's sad.
    they barely 'throw' any money at them compared to other countries recieving foreign aide i.e. Isreal, but its all still very sad and unnecessary. makes me cry inside.

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