Most DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) programs are funded for one year. Programs that attempt to operate after that year face chronic funding shortfalls, staffing shortages, outreach issues, to name just a few problems.
Not only are longer term programs needed for children to receive sustained care – to address mental health concerns that do not arise in the first year they are released and to allow for renetry into society at the pace that is comfortable for the children – but many children have never even been treated. The first wave of DDR programs after a war has ended might be able to treat some of the children who have escaped or been released, but many children fall through the cracks.
Mike Wessels, professor at Columbia University and author of the book Child Soldiers, from Violence to Protection, recently spoke in New Zealand about this very topic. In particular, he focused on girl child soldiers. Read this:
In Sierra Leone, six years after the war ended, ChildFund has identified several thousand formerly recruited girls, who have received no reintegration support and live in very difficult circumstances with many trying to provide for children they have had as a result of being raped. They suffer rights violations on a significant scale, being feared by local villagers and their own families because of their unruly behaviour. Girls have reported experiencing anguish, flashbacks, shame, and being unable to have normal relationships. Girls forced to carry and bear the children of their aggressors can suffer depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and anger.
Treatment centers need to remain open and receive proper funding to rescue and rehabilitate all of the children that are in need.
A list of Rehabilitation Programs.
More on DDR:
- Groundbreaking mental health research
- DDR – Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs need long term support and funding
- Back to the topic of reintegration; stigmatization faced by former child soldiers
- Difficulties with Reintegration for former child soldiers, as discussed in the Child Solders Global Report 2008