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November 24th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

War is stealing Congo's young

A girl fills a jug with water at the camp for internally displaced people in Kibati, Congo, on Thursday.

A girl fills a jug with water at the camp for internally displaced people in Kibati, Congo, on Thursday.

Lindsay Branham
Special to CNN

The border was hauntingly empty. No military, drenched in green, patrolling. No AKs slung over shoulders. No Swahili floating through the air.

Just the pitter-patter of rain falling to the ground and turning the dirt road into a river.

To the right some secondary school students huddled beneath an overhang.

From a village close to Rutshuru in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they had fled an attack by the rebel group, the CNDP, led by a renegade general, Laurent Nkunda. Jean said they were at school when the rebels came. The men with guns marched the boys outside and ordered them to file into a line.

"We were so scared," said Jean, "we ran into the bush." Adamant that they did not want to fight, that they did not want to become soldiers, Jean explained how they had to hide themselves in the forest to escape being abducted. Many of their friends, though, were taken.

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