Child Soldier Relief

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The mission of Child Soldier Relief Foundation (CSR), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization designated by the Internal Revenue Code, is to advocate on behalf of child soldiers by serving as a central repository of information on all topics relating to the topic of child soldiers.

Back to the topic of reintegration; stigmatization faced by former child soldiers

An article published yesterday on allAfrica.com emphasizes the importance of reintegrating former child soldiers back into society.  According to author and former child soldier Ismael Beal and psychologist Michael Wessells, a professor at Columbia University and author of the book Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection:

Stigmatization is a persistent problem faced by former child soldiers when attempting to reintegrate into society. This is especially true for girls, who, in addition to fulfilling domestic roles in armies, might take on combat responsibilities as well.

And on the importance of targeted reintegration programs or DDR, for child soldiers to include separate programs for boy child soldiers and girl child soldiers:

Wessells suggested the different problems girls face warrant different reintegration programs that specifically address their issues.

They also address the importance of holding people who recruit, train, use child soldiers responsible, using internationally recognized systems such as the ICC:

Making the International Criminal Court more accountable for prosecuting recruiters, Wessells said, would be a significant preventive measure against child soldiering. Targeting the source of conflicts that draw children into military roles is also important, he said.

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Filed under: Educational, Girl Soldiers, Intl Criminal Ct, , , , , ,

One Response

  1. afernandez says:

    Throughout time after wars have concluded or negotiations have been put into effect with different armed combatants, the issue of reintegration has posed a challenge for international development agencies, government bodies and the citizens of a given nation, among other groups. Undoubtedly reintegration is key in order for a country to regain peace. Reintegration to civilian activities in the case of children is particularly important as not only do children deserve that their rights be respected, their represent the future of a country.
    When implementing reintegration programs it is fundamental that individuals take into account the socioeconomic situation of a given place in addition to the cultural and religious norms which prevail there. Furthermore, demobilization is key to allow a country to develop adequately; funds which were channel towards containing the war can be used for public services, nationalism can be fostered, citizens can lead a normal life and children’s rights can be defended. It is important to take into account that a successful reintegration for children must include a comprehensive package allowing children to have access to permanent counseling, educational resources, and other physical securities such as access to food and housing. If these rights are not properly guaranteed, children can always succumb to the malevolent influence of insurgent groups that promise them protection and a false sense of belonging. If children combatants are demobilized soon enough they can have a greater potential to recuperate and become part of the economically active population in the future. Once again, if child combatants are to be integrated into civilian life a definite framework of integration needs to be designed; one which addresses children’s basic needs, demands reconciliation between the insurgents and the population at large and requests additional cooperation from other institutions such as NGO’s. Reconciliation is fundamental if a country wishes to avoid the stigmatization of child combatants; if not, inevitably children might be viewed negatively by other civilians. Moreover, in the case of female child soldiers, additional issues need to be considered such as gender inequalities which are present in the society in question and among other relevant aspects. All in all, the process of reintegration demands that several factors are considered in order to guarantee its success.

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