This article was originally published in Catalan on the Ara website

With shocks, but received as if they were victories. The UN has just eliminated from its terrible "list of shame" the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo, which is equivalent to saying that this army has stopped recruiting minors. In spite of being a practice prohibited by all the laws of humanitarian law, not all the countries have added to the treaties. Without going any further, the UK allows the enlistment of 17-year-old boys, although they are not allowed to go into action until they are of legal age.

But back in the Congo, last year the officers released 193 boys, some of whom had been closed for months in government prisons. In spite of the congratulations of the United Nations and NGOs, in this African country there are still 12 armed groups that are under 18 years of age. To finish completing the picture, abuses against these children are still a reality and the UN has hundreds: violations, kidnappings, beatings, sexual exploitation, mutilations and murders. This macabre catalog also includes attacks and aggressions against the non-recruited child population. Those responsible for these atrocities are both militiamen and regular soldiers.

I got rid of violence

In this case, the effort of the Congolese government to get out of the list and not to dirty its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council has been heavy for the next three years, says Josep Maria Royo, a researcher at the School of Peace Culture of the UAB However, this expert warns that at the moment the outbreak of violence in eastern Congo has led to the reorganization of the armed groups that control the cobalt mines and the fact that the elections originally planned for 2015 have been postponed until next year it shook the political and social board. All in all, Royo points out that the armed forces must be strengthened. Kasai, in the center of the country, is also recruiting hundreds of children, despite the efforts of the government, according to the NGO Child Soldiers International.

For Sandra Olsson, the manager of Child Soldiers International, the departure of the Congolese army "reflects the positive steps" he has made in recent years and another important thing: "It shows that government initiatives and campaigns work." The UN launched in 2012 a plan to encourage war actors to leave the children peacefully, and monitor what they do for two years. If the end of the child's enlistment is verified, the country or armed group questioned is out of the list. The program includes, explains Olsson, "the training of army personnel in matters of child protection, the implementation of age verification procedures for the recruitment of the army and the appointment of a government adviser against sexual violence and the recruitment of juveniles of 2014 ". Even,

But there is still a lot of work to do to keep children away from war, even if they are active actors. To get an idea of ​​how complicated it can be to end this practice, as old as humanity itself, it should be noted that there are no specific data of how many minors are a soldier. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 are enlisted in armies and non-state groups of different sign. Regarding state forces, whether military or police, in all its variants, the UN points out five countries. It is about Sudan, Sudan of the South, Yemen, Burma and Syria, all of them with civil wars and internal conflicts enquered and with a scandalous violation of all rights. Of armed groups there are 56 of implanted in 14 states. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo is where there are more militias that recruit, a dozen,

According to UN estimates, 40% of child soldiers are girls and boys, for whom domestic jobs are generally reserved, such as cooking and caring for the sick and the injured, but are also used as sex slaves . In northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram is the terrorist group that most girls use for attacks, particularly as false kamikazes, because they are forced to immolate themselves in crowded places.

Olsson contributes more jobs to the rogue: "Many children are routinely exploited in the fight and in various supporting roles, such as messengers, spies and doormen." The proliferation of light weapons - such as the mythical Kalaxikov - has made it easy for one to become even when the shooter does not raise a bunch of land. The UN has found children 8 and 9 years old in military ranks.

To the question of why there are fewer soldiers, there is not just one answer. It is true that in many of these countries childhood is perceived as a shorter step than in the West and with 14 or 15 years old they are treated as adults, and social and family circumstances oblige them to seek their lives without giving up to a salary or a plate to the table within an army or militia. But Royo points out that most of the child soldiers are in force, and circumscribe "voluntary recruitment to other moments in history and insurgent movements based on nationalism or ideology." The lack of mercenaries or adults has doubled, for example, the number of minors recruited in Syria and Somalia.

And once free, what? The return to civil life is complex because, for example, as a training minors are forced to attack their villages to break their ties and to flee. Olsson points out that girls are still worse, "discriminated against" if they also come with children. They are children who drag sequels for "serious sexual abuse and rape", and because they have been scheduled to kill.