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.
Dieudonne was taken from his home in Burundi by militia forces and taken to the Congo to fight. Dieudonne was forced to cook and fight for the militia, he tells of how his best friend was killed while fighting.
Early one morning, the FDD came to my village. They took young people by force. They also took me. We were taken to the Congo to fight at Ubwari.
We would stay at the camp, waiting for the fighters to return. We would watch the camp and prepare food for the company.
When the FDD took us, I was with my friend Innocent. We were always together in the FDD and later in the Mai-Mai. We fought together at Buyembe. He was shot several times. And then they crushed his head. After the fight we carried and buried him. I remember it so well… he was my best friend.
Copyright 2004 AJEDI-Ka/WITNESS
Original narrative to be found here