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DR Congo: UNICEF estimates 1,000 children remain active in warfare

3 December 2007 As violence flared in the troubled North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said an estimated 1,000 young people remain involved in fighting across the country.

The agency, which recently rescued some 200 Congolese children from rebel custody, also reported that fighting since Sunday between the Congolese Army (FARDC) and troops loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda has displaced an additional 30,000 to 40,000 people in North Kivu.

In New York, a UN spokesperson reported that the Congolese Army “has been forced into retreat from some of its some positions, including those near Katsiru and Kikuku.”

UN humanitarian agencies are working to transfer 10,000 displaced persons from the town of Rutshuru to safer sites, where the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that as many as 1,750 newly displaced families arrived in the course of last week.

The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is not participating in offensive actions but may provide close air support where civilians are in imminent danger, if appropriate. The mission’s mandate allows UN peacekeepers to act in support of the Government and promote the protection of civilians.

MONUC spokesman Kemal Saiki told the UN News Service that the blue helmets are working in close liaison with the FARDC, including by co-locating tactical staff in North Kivu. The mission has also moved some 4,000 troops to the area.

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