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Documentary shows child soldiers released in Congo

Channel 4 researchers travelled to the Central African country, to film footage broadcast on Friday.

There the team from the show Unreported World follow the work of a man who tries to free the child soldiers, who have been forced to fight in one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

But while the programme shows more than 20 child soldiers being released, it finds out that hundreds more children are being abducted, as rebels and the army prepare for a new round of fighting.

Viewers will see Henri Ladyi in secret talks with members of the ADF/NALU rebel group who are hiding out in the hills in North Kivu. He is told by one of the group that there are lots of child soldiers, many of them who have been forced into signing up, who need clothes and medicine.

In one scene, about 12 children armed with bows and poison-tipped arrows appear out of the dense forest. Some of them are not even teenagers.

There are some tense scenes before one of the rebel commanders starts slapping and punching the children. But Henri explains that this is a good sign and intended to make sure that children leave behind their lives as soldiers.

Henri and the children then travel to the town of Beni – the first time in a long while they have spent away from the forest, in a proper bed, with clean clothes.

The youngest says his fighter's name is Kambale but he thinks his real name is Justin. He says he was born in the forest and grew up living with the rebels, who are on the run and are being hunted down by the government army. This is the only life he has known.

But in another part of North Kivu, rebels are on an aggressive recruitment drive. Someone living in Massisi tells the team how 150 boys have disappeared and in his own area, 80 boys have gone missing. He said one boy was shot and killed for refusing to join up.

In another town, they find the schools empty. A teacher tells them that between 150 and 200 students have disappeared over the past few weeks.

Child soldiers are used to do many things from laying mines and explosives, to fighting and acting as scouts and lookouts. Some groups believe they have special magical powers and some force the children into sexual slavery.

Hayley attribution