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Cablegate: Un Special Representative Assesses Child Soldier

VZCZCXRO3848
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0297 0721334
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131334Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5760
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000297

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KGOV MOPS CG
SUBJECT: UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ASSESSES CHILD SOLDIER
SITUATION

1. (U) UN Special Representative for Children in Armed
Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy visited the DRC March 4-9 to
assess the situation of child soldiers in the country. She
met with Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga and Minister of
Defense Chikez Diemo, as well as officials of the Congolese
demobilization agency CONADER, various UN agencies, and
MONUC. She also traveled to the eastern provinces of
Orientale, North Kivu, and South Kivu, where she visited
local NGOs which work with demobilized child soldiers. She
will present a report to the UN Security Council on her
findings.

2. (U) During her visit, Coomaraswamy highlighted three
concerns about child soldiers in the DRC: the recruitment of
children by armed groups and the need to reintegrate child
soldiers into society; sexual violence against children; and
the issue of impunity for those responsible for recruiting
and using child soldiers. During a press interview, she said
that recruitment of child soldiers in the DRC is "essentially
over" but added that their reintegration into society is "the
biggest issue facing the country."

3. (U) Coomaraswamy praised the "positive evolution" of the
situation and said Congolese officials had assured her they
would treat the child soldier issue as "a high priority."
She called for the immediate re-arrest of Commander Kanyanga
Biyoyo, who escaped from prison in June, 2006 after being
convicted of recruiting child soldiers. She also drew
attention to renegade General Laurent Nkunda and allegations
that child soldiers associated with his militia have not been
released during the process of "mixing" with other FARDC
troops.

4. (U) Comment: Coomaraswamy's statements regarding the near
end of recruitment of child soldiers in DRC is consistent
with Post's analysis which indicated that fewer than 4,000 of
the 33,000 child soldiers once active in the DRC remain to be
demobilized. The current challenge is to reintegrate the
demobilized child soldiers into society and to prevail upon
militia commanders to release the remaining child soldiers in
their ranks. End comment.
MEECE

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