The U.S. government estimates that 4 in 10 children between the ages of 10 and 14 work in the DRC. Agriculture, fishing, mining, begging and prostitution are just some of the areas that children can be found working in.

DR Congo: Hoping for a Brighter Future

By Christian Kilundu [from World Vision—A CLC member]

He was in primary school when he first met the rebels. They arrived and promised big salaries. The poverty and insecurity the children lived in could be escaped, they swore.

Of course, once inside the rebel group, life wasn’t as it was promised.

In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), rebels continue to recruit children into their fighting parties as a war continues to unfold against the country’s army. In the 15 years of fighting, an estimated 5 million people have been killed, and more than 1.7 million have fled the area.

Boys who are not yet teenagers have been lured into the rebel groups and are used to carry ammunition, food and other supplies before graduating to other activities.

Below, one child recounts his experience inside the rebel armies and his attempt to return to a normal childhood.

“I am Dragon Mike*, I am 17 years old and a former child soldier. Read more

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

By: Michele Kelemen

December 20, 2011

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

“All the money that armed groups get from that exploitation is used to buy weapons and other ammunition so that they may cause injury to people … men slaughtered, pillage, rape of women and young girls,” he says.

Some of Sesete’s own family members have been forced from their homes in mineral rich areas of eastern Congo. The country’s riches, he says, have been a curse. Read more

The US Blinks, and Children Will Suffer

[Blog, originally from the Huffington Post]

Jo Becker
Children’s Rights Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
Posted: November 9, 2010 10:07 AM

Until recently, the United States might have been considered a world leader in combating the use of child soldiers. But after events last month, children victimized in war may need to look elsewhere for help.
The United States has spent millions of dollars supporting the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Sierra Leone. It enacted groundbreaking legislation enabling the United States to prosecute child soldier recruiters entering the United States, and to withhold US military assistance from governments that use child soldiers. In 2002, it joined an important international treaty that prohibits the use of children under 18 as combatants. It even changed its military deployment practices to set a good example. These actions put it on the forefront of international efforts to end one of the most heinous aspects of modern warfare.
But last month President Obama issued an order allowing US military assistance to governments that use child soldiers, undermining a law he voted for as a Senator just two years ago. Also last month, the US became the first Western nation since World War II to convict a former child soldier of war crimes.

Read more

Harvard Crimson Editorial Board: Reject Those Who Exploit Children (op-ed)

[A recent editorial regarding the Obama Administration’s military aid policies]
Reject those who exploit children
By: Harvard Editorial Board
Posted: 11/11/10
Despite its early remonstrance of perceived human-rights violations such as Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration took a step backward last week by issuing a waiver that will allow the continuation of military aid to four countries that openly employ child soldiers.

Read more