Skip to main content

82 child soldiers saved in Democratic Republic of Congo -- U.N. force

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
August 17, 2013 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
Indian soldiers of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo are pictured near Goma in June 2013.
Indian soldiers of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo are pictured near Goma in June 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 82 child soldiers have been rescued from an armed group, U.N mission says
  • 13 girls were among the children rescued from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga
  • The children range from 8 to 17 years in age; 40 have been reunited with their families
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a long history of violence

(CNN) -- Scores of child soldiers, some of them as young as eight years old, have been rescued from an armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. mission in the African nation said.

The 82 children, 13 of them girls, were recovered since Sunday from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group in the southeastern Katanga province, MONUSCO said Friday in a statement.

The children, aged up to 17 years, had reportedly been recruited by the armed group within the past six months, it said.

Forty of them have been reunited with their parents.

The others are being cared for until they can be returned home, the statement said.

"We are extremely concerned by continued reports of active recruitment by Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga and other armed groups in eastern DRC," said MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler.

"Children face unacceptable risks when they are recruited for military purposes. The recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account."

Child protection agencies in the province orchestrated the rescues, MONUSCO said.

Since the start of the year, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been rescued from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga by MONUSCO and child protection workers, the statement said.

The country's mineral-rich eastern part is at the epicenter of a political and ethnic conflict involving its neighbors to the east, Uganda and Rwanda, and has long been embroiled in violence.

The region's humanitarian crisis involves 2.6 million internally displaced people, the United Nations says, with 6.4 million people in need of food and emergency aid.

Nearly 20,000 troops are deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the MONUSCO peacekeeping force.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT