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.
Martin, a 16 year old Rwandan boy, was one of many children, boys and girls, lured into the M23 (Mouvement du 23 mars) under false pretences.
When I was in Kigali we were told by a man there was a lot of money to be earned in the Congo. My friends and I joined him – but instead of work we received military training in the bush, there were girls who were trained as well and we all, became combatants in the M23. We fought against the FARDC in Bunagana.
Narrative provided by MONUSCO in their report ‘Invisible Survivors: Girls in Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2009 to 2015’