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 seperated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adeqaute rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.
John was abducted at nine years old when militia attacked his village. He was forced to become a child soldier. John was beaten each time he tried to escape. He finally managed to escape 3 weeks ago (2012) to a UN military base before dawn. It had been 6 years. Now he is at a transition centre for child soldiers.
They came at night, they caught me and took me away. We arrived at the militia camp in daylight. I didn’t know how to get back home. I was afraid because I was still a child. I was nine.
They sued to assign jobs to us, if they assign you to cook then you cook, or if it is time to look for food then you look for food, or if it is time to fight, then you fight.
We used to live a life of war, sometimes we were attacked and ran away and we would come back and just fight and fight. Sometimes we would attack. That was how my life used to be.
I just want to live well and stay with my parents so I can go back to school so I can get a better life.
Narrative provided by CNN