Human Rights Watch: DRC Warlord Ntaganda is Recruiting Child Soldiers
Renewed fighting by ex-government army General Bosco “The Terminator” Ntagnda is once again plunging communities in eastern DRC into despair and creating thousands of new displaced. His forces have also set their sites on child soldiers, according to a just released report from Human Rights Watch. “Ntaganda’s troops – an estimated 300 to 600 soldiers who followed him in his mutiny – forcibly recruited at least 149 boys and young men around Kilolirwe, Kingi, Kabati, and other locations on the road to Kitchanga, in Masisi, North Kivu province, between April 19 and May 4, Human Rights Watch found in interviews with witnesses and victims. At least seven boys died in the fighting. Those forcibly recruited were between 12 and 20 years old and were largely from the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. At least 48 were children under age 18, of whom 17 were under age 15. Due to the patterns of recruitment documented, Human Rights Watch believes that the actual level of recruitment during this period may have been significantly higher…Ntaganda’s fighters took children by force at school, from their homes, farms, or from the roadside as they tried to flee on foot or on motorbike taxis. A number of those forcibly recruited were given quick military training, but the majority were immediately forced to porter weapons and ammunition to frontline positions. Many were put in military uniforms or partial uniforms.” (HRW http://bit.ly/L1wTls)
Can Obama Keep His Afghan 2014 Timetable?
NATO leaders will be meeting in Chicago this weekend and Afghanistan will very much be on top of the Agenda. But with new leadership in France and an ever fragile situation in Europe, that timetable for withdrawal may very well become accelerated, despite Obama’s desire otherwise. “Just days before a NATO summit that leaders had hoped would present a carefully scripted display of unity on Afghanistan, the inauguration of a French president committed to an early drawdown has instead intensified a rush for the exits from an unpopular war. In advance of this weekend’s summit in Chicago, the Obama administration and senior North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials have been scrambling to ensure that alliance members remain committed to keeping troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, and to paying billions of dollars after that to prop up the Afghan government. But that unanimity is in doubt with the arrival of French President Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party leader who campaigned on a vow to withdraw all 3,300 French troops by the end of this year. Hollande’s victory sent a shock wave through NATO and sparked a highly unusual diplomatic campaign by the U.S. and other governments to persuade Hollande to reconsider his pledge.” (LAT http://lat.ms/L1uA1W)