Tug-Of-War: Children in Armed Groups in the DRC: A Study of Push and Pull Factors Influencing Children to Join Armed Groups ‘Voluntarily’ in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

There is a tendency in the literature and in policy debates to discuss children joining armed groups almost exclusively in terms of forced recruitment. Yet, some are joining voluntarily. How does it happen? Why does it happen? Who are the children more prone to make this choice? Is it really a choice?

This study was commissioned to understand more about this phenomenon. Using evidence drawn from interviews with 150 children and 80 adults in five research sites in North and South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the report examines the push and pull factors that influence children’s engagement with armed groups as combatants and in other roles.