Through interviews and speeches, Young Reporters are committed to defending children’s rights throughout DRC. ©UNICEF DRC 2014 Sylvie Sona
Renewed hostilities in the east of the country over the last two years have seen high numbers of children recruited into armed forces, an abuse of child rights that has outraged young journalists.
A group named Young Reporters of Katanga Province is calling on the Congolese government, parents and community leaders to prevent the recruitment of children by armed groups and to assist the return of child soldiers to their families.
“Sooner or later, this will impact their psychological well-being and tomorrow’s society will be affected.”
The majority of these children are abducted and forced to work as combatants, spies, messengers, cooks or sex slaves. Others are lured by the promise of money, education, jobs and other desperately needed benefits.
By denying children their basic right to safety and security, the involvement of children in armed conflict is a serious breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which UNICEF works to uphold.
UNICEF programs prevent the use of child soldiers by strengthening local laws and also assist the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict.
Last year UNICEF assisted 4,601 Congolese children formerly associated with armed forces to reunite with their communities. Its programs continue in 2014 with 433 children released and assisted in January.
The Young Reporters of Katanga Province will also maintain their advocacy.
“We want children everywhere, who hear and read our message, to know that we will continue to work hard for their rights to be respected!” say the reporters.
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