Indian Army troops deployed under the United Nations Organisation Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have rescued 22 children who were in the danger of being turned into “child soldiers” by armed groups in the war-ravaged country.
Army officials here on Monday said the 16 boys and six girls from Nyabiondo, a village in the eastern part of Congo, were “extricated” in a 48-hour long-range mission launched by the Indian rapid deployment battalion.
“The battalion swung into action on September 16 after receiving the information about the children from the local villagers and foiled attempts by armed groups to turn them into child soldiers. The children were later handed over to the UN child protection agencies,” said an officer.
On the same day, soldiers from another Indian battalion prevented the displacement of an entire village with over 200 families in the Mirki area. “The exodus was being caused by fighting between rival groups, which had led to panic in the area. The prompt show of force by the Indian soldiers drove away the fighting groups and brought the situation under control,” he added.
Over 2,600 Indian soldiers are deployed under MONUSCO, which is the largest and most complex UN peacekeeping mission around the globe at present, who conduct an average of 2,300 patrols every month to ensure protection of civilians there.
The Indian brigade is deployed in the most unstable North Kivu province of the central African nation, covering an area of 43,700 square km with 948 villages and 42 camps from the 1,80,000 internally displace people. Indian troops have often come under attack, with at least half a dozen being killed and several injured while performing peace-keeping duties in the country.
India, of course, is the second-largest troop contributing country in the world, with 6,891 Army soldiers and 782 police personnel deployed in 11 UN missions and two UN offices.