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RCD-Goma has acknowledged a responsibility to demobilize the child soldiers it "inherited" from the Alliance des Forces Démocratique pour la Libération du Congo (ADFL) after the first war, but the head of their Department of Foreign Affairs said that they cannot be demobilized without ensuring rehabilitation programs for them. Otherwise, he argued, they could find their way on to the streets or be recruited into militias.59 RCD-Goma issued an order on May 15, 2000 establishing an inter-departmental commission on the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, but the commission has not yet begun to function effectively.60

Former child soldiers, however, are likely to be sent to war again by RCD-Goma itself. Unless the RCD-Goma and RPA troops stop recruiting children, its rhetoric on demobilization will continue to be meaningless. As one Goma resident commented: "We are speaking of demobilization but they will be recruited again immediately." 61

Recent statistics collected at a center for demobilizing child soldiers show that
RCD-Goma recruited far more children itself than it "inherited" from the ADFL. Of the children who have passed through the center, 256 were enrolled directly by RCD-Goma and fifteen came from the RCD-Goma ranks after having first served in the ADFL. Of the other children in the center, fifteen had fought first with the Mai-Mai and then had been incorporated into RCD forces and another 41 had first served as Local Defense Forces before being transferred into the ranks of the regular army, as described above. In addition, the center housed seventy-three children who had been fighting with the Mai-Mai and had not been part of the RCD forces.62

59 Human Rights Watch interview with Joseph Mudumbi, Goma, December 19, 2000.

60 Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2000/1156, December 6, 2000, paragraph 73.

61 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, December 7, 2000.

62 Information gathered by researchers of Refugee International, April 19, 2001.

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