There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies. In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.
Danso, a 16 year old boy, was forcibly recruited by M23 (Mouvement du 23 mars) in 2012. He escaped five months after his association and told MONUSCO that he received military training along with three girls.
We were treated very badly during the training; we had to run in the night and were often beaten. There were three girls in my group, S. who was 16 and an Adjutant, F. who was 17 and a First Sergeant and D. who was only 11; S. had two small children who were killed by Captain [S.] on the way to Runyoni under the orders of Major [K.].
Narrative provided by MONUSCO in their report ‘Invisible Survivors: Girls in Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2009 to 2015’