Children Enlisted for War: Democratic Republic of Congo

Child soldiers at an ethnic Hema militia camp near Bunia

Although the war finished in 2003, hundreds of children die every day from hunger, disease and violence. Children are still being abducted, raped and recruited as soldiers by the armed forces and rebel groups.

  • Armed groups enlisted 25,000 children during the war - UNICEF.
  • Girls are raped and forced to become sex slaves to fighters.
  • U.N. peacekeepers stand accused of sexually exploiting children, giving them food or money for sex.
  • One in five children dies before their fifth birthday.
  • Child labour is likely to become an increasing problem as investors rush to exploit Congo's vast resources.

"I don't want to go back to the army. I would like to have some goats for stock breeding, but I can't go home: I'm sure the soldiers will come and take me again."

Izaak, 15


War Child in the Democratic Republic of Congo 


Children Forced to Work

Children of Phnom Penh, David Barboza, The New York Times


Many children living in poverty are forced to work to support themselves and their families.

A large proportion of the world's 218 million child workers are in India, which came sixth in the poll.

"An estimated 60 to 115 million children are classified as working children - the highest number in the world," said Anuradha Mittal, director of the Oakland Institute think tank.

"Deprived of their childhoods, most have never seen the inside of a school."

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Wendy Chamberlin highlighted the case of Nepali girls who are trafficked to Indian cities, including Mumbai and Calcutta, for sex work. "They are really trapped," she said.

In Russia's breakaway Chechnya republic, fighting has displaced at least 95,000 people and UNICEF says 99 percent of residents live below the official Russian poverty line.

Child soldiers and forced labour were key reasons why respondents picked Myanmar, where the military junta is accused of conscripting tens of thousands of children to fight.

Egeland called on the international community to boost efforts to tackle children's issues around the world. "We must do more to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly as they relate to children, who are, of course, our future," he said.


Videos about The Rights of the Child


The UNICEF Anthem' is a new composition by UNICEF Canada Ambassador Steve Barakatt

The Anthem was composed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Produced in collaboration with other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, musicians and video artists from around the globe, Lullaby is dedicated to the world's children and the realization of their rights. Mr. Barakatt also directed this music video featuring stirring images from UNICEF's photography archive (second director Allan Legarth Nielsen) .


For Every Child


"For Every Child" is a new UNICEF video which highlights the importance of realizing children's rights as foreseen in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The four and a half minute video is set to "Lullaby, The UNICEF Anthem" composed and produced by UNICEF Canada Ambassador Steve Barakatt. The orchestral piece, released to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, features a variety of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, world renowned artists and other supporters.