AMNESTY CALLS ON THE EU: RETAIN KEY EU PERSONNEL ON THE GROUND UNTIL UN FORCE IS FULLY OPERATIONAL
At a press conference in Brussels this morning, Amnesty International launched a 50-page report documenting the plight of thousands of child soldiers in Africa’s Great Lakes region and called on the international community to take more effective action to stop this “war crime”.
The report: Democratic Republic of Congo: Children at War (available see link at end of page) contains gruesome accounts of the plight of children press-ganged into the army and militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
While most of the warring parties in the DRC have committed themselves to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, Amnesty International’s report says there is a vast discrepancy between their public commitments and actual events on the ground.
In the light of today’s launch, Amnesty International calls on the European Union to:
- Ensure some EU capacity is retained on the ground until MONUC (UN Force) is fully operational and both capable and willing to protect civilians. (Amnesty International’s office in Kampala reports that there has been a sudden increase in tension and violence in Bunia since EU troops of the Interim Emergency Multinational Force left the town last Saturday, 6 September). until MONUC (UN Force) is fully operational and both capable and willing to protect civilians. (Amnesty International’s office in Kampala reports that there has been a sudden increase in tension and violence in Bunia since EU troops of the Interim Emergency Multinational Force left the town last Saturday, 6 September).
- Exert pressure on the governments of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda to end support for armed groups responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC, and guarantee that their armed forces cease the recruitment and use of children under 18 years.
- Ensure the swift adoption of an arms embargo for the DRC as proposed by the European Commission.
- Ensure that the €205 million EU aid package to the DRC to help with the country’s transition to democracy, announced by the European Commission last week, provides adequate funding for the rehabilitation of child soldiers, and mechanisms to bring those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, to justice.
- Help reinforce the DRC’s judicial system by providing the necessary resources i.e. material, training and contributions from judges outside the DRC.
“Through the Artemis operation, the European Union has already helped to begin the process of stabilisation in the region,” Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office said. “In the light of our new report, Amnesty International is calling on the EU to follow through with that process, in particular, by looking closely at how its aid money will benefit the rehabilitation of child soldiers and help end this ruthless exploitation of children.”
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Email: [email protected]