Reintegration is an ongoing challenge for all former child soldiers. Whether heading back into society in their country of origin, into a new society as a refugee, former child soldiers face the dangers of stigmatization and reprisal attacks. In Uganda, many child soldiers who have passed through the camps or rehabilitation centers, receiving emergency health care and counseling, are now attempting to travel back to their villages to settle.
According to this article from yesterday’s Washington Post, a local commissioner in Uganda, Joann Pacoto, stated:
Everybody talks about reintegration, but no one gets to the heart of the matter. It’s very complex. To get people who’ve spent 10 years in the bush to come back to regular life and be accepted, that is a problem. It’s not like ‘Oh, Joann is back’ and that’s that.
Some face the prospect of rejection, other face outright violence. Thankfully, according to recent statistics, reprisal killings have been few (although it is possible all are not being recorded).
A recent survey by the Refugee Law Project, an advocacy group based in the capital, Kampala, found that although some returnees have been stigmatized, there have been few revenge killings, as was feared.
As mentioned before in this blog, long-term assistance and care is paramount.
…as many aid groups pull out of the region, others say the real recovery has barely begun.
Funding and programs specifically earmarked for longer-term assistance and follow-up care is essential.