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UN agency helps some 3000 children in DR of Congo disarm

Of the 2,914 children whom child protection services in Ituri district received during the Disarmament and Community Reintegration (DCR) process, 2,353 are boys, and 561 are girls, UNICEF said in a release.Before the DCR programme started last September, 337 boys and 62 girls arrived for protection, it said.”While the number of children who have left the armed forces and various armed groups has increased in Ituri, we are deeply concerned about the low numbers of girls who have been released,” UNICEF DRC Child Protection Officer Trish Hiddleston said.Noting that recruiting children for armed conflict violates international and Congolese law, UNICEF called on the armed groups to release all children and to allow them to resume their normal lives and their schooling.”Girls and boys are not only used for combat, but also for carrying arms, cooking, cleaning and other tasks. Often, girls and boys are also not only victims of daily psychological, verbal and physical violence, but also sexual violence which exposes them to HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy,” it said.When children could not immediately be reunified with their families, UNICEF and its child protection partners have taken care of them, providing such needs as civilian clothes and tracing their families.

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