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Congolese Militia Groups Are Recruiting Children And Youth For Combat

https _blogs-images.forbes.com_unicefusa_files_2018_05_Mado.700w.UN0185841_2The growing humanitarian crisis in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo has deteriorated rapidly in the past year. Inter-ethnic conflict and clashes between the regular army, militia and armed groups have driven almost 4.5 million people from their homes.  Nearly 8 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance. Refugees are crossing into neighboring Angola, Burundi, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia in large numbers to escape  extreme violence and food insecurity. Villages have been burned down, schools destroyed and health centers looted. Militia groups actively recruit children and teens. In response, UNICEF has scaled up integrated health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, education and child protection services to address this complex and challenging situation.

At a UNICEF-supported reintegration center for children associated with armed groups in Kananga in the Kasaï region, trained counselors are helping traumatized young people recover from their experiences, and encouraging them to build new lives for themselves. Below, four teenage girls share their stories [all names have been changed to protect the girls' privacy]:

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                                                                              Vision GRAM- International