The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUC, has revealed that the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are carrying out forced recruitment on a large scale, in an attempt to reinforce their depleted forces.
The Chief Military Spokesperson of the mission, Lt. Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich told The New Times that children have not been spared by the group, largely made up of those responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“The FDLR continue their forced recruitment campaign. Late last month, FDLR inducted 60 to 70 new soldiers into its forces,” Dietrich noted in an e-mail.
When contacted for comment, John Sayinzoga, the Chairman of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), confirmed the reports.
“That is their normal practice! Right now we have as many as thirty three children at Muhazi captured or deserted and repatriated. They recruit everywhere, and that is simply because many of their people are fleeing from them – now we have over three hundred at Mutobo (demobilisation and reintegration camp),” said Sayinzoga.
Other reports have confirmed that the rebel force is demanding a ransom of US$200 for each individual abducted in addition of threatening to kill anybody who reports their presence to MONUC or the Congolese army.
The New Times has also reliably established that the rebels are avoiding contact with the Congolese army in North Kivu as they recruit to reinforce and gain financial and physical footholds in the Kivu jungles before the rainy season sets in.