KIGALI, Rwanda 

Armed groups in South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo recruited more than 470 children into their ranks last year, the UN’s Radio Okapi reported Sunday.

Fifty of the children were killed, including 12 girls, and 169 suffered sexual violence, said the radio station, citing a report by the UN peacekeeping force in Congo (MONUSCO).

No child soldiers, however, were registered in the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), it said.

The national army has even been removed from the United Nations blacklist of armies that recruit and/or use children.

MONUSCO said last year that two commands of the armed groups had committed to ending the recruitment and use of children as well as other grave violations of children’s rights.

According to MONUSCO, there has been some considerable progress in the fight against the recruitment of child soldiers.

It said, however, that the great challenge remains the socio-economic reintegration of all children who leave armed groups in order to convince them never to return to the bush.

The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups is defined as a war crime by the International Criminal Court.

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