UNICEF highly concerned about the impact of fighting on children in North KivuListen /
The resumption of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between the national army and armed groups (the M23 and the ADF-Nalu) in North Kivu province is a direct risk to children in and around the areas where fighting is taking place, the UN children's agency (UNICEF) warns.
The agency says it has received reports of children killed or injured as a direct result of the current clashes. It says the available information points to a worrying situation where children are increasingly among the victims.
UNICEF Representative in DRC Barbara Bentein, says "Children must be protected by all parties of the conflict". She says "The recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age in armed forces and groups is a crime under Congolese and international law", adding "Those responsible should be identified, arrested and prosecuted in the shortest possible time".
UNICEF estimates there are some 2,000 children being used by armed groups across North Kivu province. And Ms. Bentein urges "all parties involved in the conflict to release minors in their ranks".
Since January 2013 UNICEF and its partners supported the successful demobilization and reintegration of 1,700 children and will continue to provide reintegration support for children who leave the armed groups.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.