Protecting children should be at the heart of ongoing DRC dialogueListen /
The surrender of the M23 and other armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) brings with it the responsibility to help children reunite with their families, go back to school and aspire to a better future.
That's the conclusion reached by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict, following a seven day visit to the country.
Leila Zerrougui was on a mission to assess the situation of children affected by armed conflict.
"I can say that my visit to the DRC was an opportunity to remind everyone that we don't forget children; that they suffered a lot during the conflict. They are very much affected by the conflict. They were recruited, they were killed, maimed used, but also they lost their environment. Their schools were looted, militarily used, destroyed. They were displaced from their homes, lost members of their families. So, for them, it was important to go while people are settling peace to remind them that they don't forget children and they have to ensure they are in the centre of any process."
Ms. Zerrougui met with national, provincial and local authorities in the DRC capital of Kinshasa, as well as Goma, Rutshuru and Beni in the eastern part of the country.
Her other goal was to assess the progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan signed by the DRC Government in 2012, to end the recruitment and use of children by the Congolese armed forces.
Since the signing of the plan, hundreds of children have been released as a result of stronger cooperation between the Government and the United Nations.
Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.