While M23 denies recruiting children, between January and April 2013, CPS identified 33 boys who deserted from M23, aged between 15 and 17 (see annex 68). Out of the 33, 11 had been recruited in Rwanda. In addition, the Group interviewed nine M23 deserters who confirmed that some children had escaped and returned directly to their families without surrendering to authorities, confirming that there are undocumented cases of child soldier desertions. According to these sources, this practice has been more common among deserters who had been recruited in Rwanda and who seek to directly return home.
The Group also interviewed seven adult former combatants who had been recruited in Rwanda; these men stated that recruiters had promised them and some children “lucrative jobs in Congo”, but instead they were delivered to M23. These sources also disclosed that they had been recruited in Rwanda’s Nkamira Refugee Camp and the villages of Mizingo, Bigogwe, Byumba, and Nkuri. They added that while training in Rumangabo they had met other recruits who came from Kitotoma, Gitega, Musanze (Ruhengeri), Kichumbi, Rukomo and Gisenyi town in Rwanda. The Group also interviewed nine M23 deserters and 24 civilians in Kiwanja, Kanyaruchinya, Rutshuru town and Bunagana who also confirmed cases of forced recruitment of children in their communities.
Anglicans should note with interest Ruhengeri, as this is the location of the famous Sonrise school of John Rucyahana. Let us hope there is no connection between M23 and Sonrise.