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Congolese Youth
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Identifying Education and Policy Needs for Demobilized Child Soldiers
Democratic Republic of Congo
May – August 2000

Africa MapIn the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where civil war recurred for more than 20 years, the military establishment had long viewed child soldiers as valuable assets because they were inexpensive, forged a strong allegiance with the army or militia, and were more easily convinced to participate in violent acts. An overwhelming majority of the children involved in armed conflict were forcibly removed from their classrooms and neighborhoods and transported to training camps. For other children, joining the Congolese Armed Forces was a means of escaping poverty and provided a significant source of household income for their families.

In 2001, the country’s USAID Mission requested assistance in assessing the educational needs of demobilized child soldiers and other war-affected children in order to formulate national policy around demobilizing and reintegrating ex-combatants. The BEPS assessment team focused on identifying the barriers to family and community participation in the social reintegration process and child soldier demobilization. The team also evaluated existing institutional capacity and the monitoring of child soldier recruitment. The assessment also explored both formal and nonformal education opportunities and the role of international agencies in enabling child soldier demobilization. Stakeholder meetings allowed for dialogue between NGOs, government and donor partners, and civil society organizations.

The BEPS assessment team concluded that institutional structures were needed to oversee and coordinate the reintegration and demobilization processes. The analysis resulted in specific programmatic recommendations to ensure that demobilized child soldiers, in particular, and children in situations of armed conflict, in general, have access to education and special services.

Click here to see the DRC Situational Analysis Report

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