Democratic Republic of the Congo
Specifically, the president has waived more than $18.2 million in Direct Commercial Sales, more than $267,000 in Excess Defense Articles, $300,000 in Foreign Military Financing, $115,000 in Foreign Military Sales, approximately $3.1 million in International Military Education and Training, and more than $44 million in Peacekeeping Operations assistance.
According to the U.S. State Department, the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC) and armed groups that receive support from the Congolese government – including the Nduma Defense of Congo-Rénové (NDC-R) – have recruited and used child soldiers. The FARDC have recruited children, at times through force, for use as combatants, escorts, and porters. Children have also been recruited and used by the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) – a former Congolese rebel group – and many were not demobilized following the group’s integration into the FARDC.
While there has not been a confirmed case of FARDC child soldier recruitment in over five years, there were two confirmed cases of the FARDC using children in support roles between April 2018 and March 2019, including for sexual slavery and forced labor. In addition, the Congolese armed forces continue to collaborate with proxy militias by providing ammunition and uniforms as well as coordinating strategy and battlefield tactics, among other activities. Groups such as the NDC-R have recruited, and continue to recruit and use, child soldiers.
The DRC has taken steps to address the issue of child soldier use and recruitment, including by signing a U.N. Action Plan in 2012 and establishing a Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) – composed of government ministries, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations – to oversee its implementation. The DRC has removed child soldiers from the FARDC and transferred a number of them into the care of humanitarian organizations, organized awareness campaigns and age verification workshops, begun screening FARDC recruits to prevent children from joining, and increased investigations and prosecutions for child soldier recruitment.
For more information, see the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. More information on the situation in the DRC can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict’s annual report.