Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Tuesday, September 30

Violence persists in Eastern Congo

A new report by Amnesty International reveals that, despite an agreement in January by parties to the conflict to curb atrocities, the use of child soldiers and the abuse of women and children continue to be ubiquitous in North Kivu, Eastern Congo.

The press release highlights that, of those former child soldiers who returned home as part of a national demobilization program, as many as half of them may have returned to combat.

A number of news outlets picked up the report, including the BBC, the Guardian, and VOA.  The BBC quotes Defense Minister Chikez Diemu, who disputes the implications of the report—that the army is also taking part in recruitment of children, and that nothing is being done.  "A great deal has been achieved," he said, citing the arrest and trial of people suspected of committing atrocities.  The Amnesty report, though, says that for every two child soldiers released, five are recruited.

Amnesty also reports the widespread use of rape in the region, which often seems ethnically targeted and is used to terrorize rival populations.

This report comes on the heels of stories of the resurgence of the Lord's Resistance Army in the area.  IRIN reports that attacks by the Ugandan rebel group in recent weeks have displaced 17,000 people, killed two, and led to the abduction of 90 children.