In the security Council of the United Nations (UN) on Red Hand Day an important Report will be on the agenda. For one year the task forces of the UN have monitored the situation of child soldiers in the countries that are on the ‘black list’. The results are both encouraging and disturbing.
War Child is pleased to hear that the worldwide efforts on behalf of child soldiers is paying off. In Ivory Coast no more child soldiers are being recruited and the warring factions are taking measures to let the children involved return to their homes. Sierra Leone and Liberia have been taken off the black list. And Charles Taylor, ex-president of Sierra Leone and Thomas Lubanga, rebel leader from DR Congo, have been officially indicted for (amongst others) the use of child soldiers in armed conflicts
Too little attention for re-integration
Unfortunately the Report also mentions some very worrying and disturbing developments. War Child is primarily concerned that the focus in the last year has lain on the demobilisation and disarmament of the children and less on their reintegration into society.
Reintegration is expensive and a matter of long term perspective. However, the sustained rebuilding of a peaceful society after the war is very much dependent on the successful reintegration of these children! If they do not find their place in society, their is a large chance they will be recruited into armed forces again.
War Child supports the statement that it is vitally important that reintegration of child soldiers is an integral part of of peace building programmes from the start in post-conflict areas. For successful results of reintegration it is very important that the community as a whole is involved in the process. War Child Holland has developed such large scale reintegration programmes for child soldiers in countries like Colombia, DR Congo, Uganda and Sierra Leone.
Recruitment of refugee children
OoAls the trend to recruit children in refugee camps, like in DR Congo, is very serious and worrying. These children who have recently fled from violence and are extra vulnerable, become the target for kidnappers. A better security in and around refugee camps is therefore very important. War Child has programmes for refugee children in both Colombia and DR COngo. The aim is to increase their empowerment and self-confidence and thereby prevent recruitment.
War Child is pleased with the aim of Radhika Coomaraswamy (Specioal Representative of the UN for children in situations of armed conflicts) to ask the Securtity COuncil to enforce stronger sanctions to groups that use child soldiers. Hopefully we will come, on this Red Hand Day, another step closer to a worlkd without child soldiers.