RealNews

Children Fight Tribal Rivals in Congo

Dwarfed by his assault rifle, a 10-year-old burst in on two women looting a shop and ordered them to stop, smacking them with the Kalashnikov’s barrel for emphasis. “Get out and don’t let me see you here again,” he barked, sending the terrified women scurrying out the door. In most parts of deeply traditional rural Africa, it is women who control the lives of children, feeding them, educating them, telling them what to do. In the chaos of Congo’s civil war, that equation has often been reversed as youngsters fill the ranks of rival armies. Aid workers say about 30 percent of those fighting in the civil war in this vast central African country are children under 18. But as many as half the fighters are children in Bunia, a northeastern town where tribal battles in recent weeks killed at least 500 people and prompted the United Nations to send in an international peacekeeping force. Full Story

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