Children in Eastern Congo (DRC) are born into conflict. After the genocide in Rwanda (1994), about two million Hutus were pushed into Congo. What followed was chaos. When the largest coltan and cassiterite reserves in the world were found, a mineral which we all carry in our mobile phones, a mass plundering followed.
About sixty rebel groups control mines in the Eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu. More than ten thousand child soldiers have been freed from rebel groups in the past few years, according to the United Nations. Every year, about 1800 children are being recruited.
Kadir van Lohuizen portrayed former child soldiers in a mining village in South Kivu, in early 2015. Many kids dream of easy money and join the rebels. Others have been abducted. Van Lohuizen also photographed the causes of the DRC conflict. He visited mines, Rwandese FDLR-rebels, and the Congolese army.
After more than twenty years of conflict, Eastern Congo is a forgotten war. MONUSCO, the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world, did not have much impact. The rebels operate like guerrilla’s. Van Lohuizen joined the UN force on one of their patrols.