Reintegrating young combatants in the Kivus : what former child soldiers say
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The use of child soldiers to perform violent acts is one of the most condemned and emotionally disturbing practices globally. Child soldiers are with contextual variations believed to partake in most protracted social conflicts. International media, policy-makers and humanitarian actors have in recent years pushed the issue of child soldiering forward, making it one of the most recognized humanitarian issues. Yet the complexity of this issue is constrained by a lack of veritable knowledge. This thesis identifies common traits of former child soldiers who have reintegrated back to their families and local communities. Socioeconomic effects of formalized intervention efforts are also assessed. The empirical investigation is based on the testimonies of twenty-four former child soldiers in the Kivu provinces, DRC. Considerable challenges affect the reintegration process. Few former child soldiers are able to establish sufficient economic livelihoods. Social reintegration is a strenuous task with varying occurrences of prejudice, discrimination and stigmatization. Intervention programmes seem incapable of addressing these challenges in a sufficient way. Nonetheless, child soldiers express considerable satisfaction with intervention efforts. The overall process of reintegrating former child soldiers is surrounded by ambiguity. Conventional approaches are preoccupied with assessing established socioeconomic variables. Contextual factors like family and social roles are important aspects related to a successful reintegration. Key words: Democratic Republic of Congo, Kivus, child soldiers, intervention efforts, socioeconomic reintegration.
Master thesis in development management- University of Agder, 2012