Report: Armed Groups in Congo Turn Schools into Military Bases

 (dpa/NAN)

 Armed groups operating in Congo attack schools and sometimes turn them into military bases, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
According to the report, the Congolese army, as well as over 10 armed groups attacked schools in 2013 and 2014, especially in the east of the country.
The rights group said that armed groups forced schoolchildren to join them as fighters.
“Schools may also be looted or converted into a military base, barracks, training grounds, or weapons and ammunition storage.
“Troops occupying schools expose students and teachers to risks such as unlawful recruitment, forced labour, beatings, and sexual violence.
“Fear, fighting and the destruction of school buildings are preventing over 10,000 children from attending school,’’ the HRW said.
The report was based on interviews with over 120 students, teachers and officials.
ReportS say dozens of armed groups remain active in eastern Congo, which has been ravaged by violence since the Congo wars that lasted from 1996 to 2003.

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