Reintegrating Returned Girl Soldiers in the DRC
Sandra Olsson, Program Manager - Child Protection, Child Soldiers International
Véronique Aubert, Senior Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Research Adviser, Save the Children
Chair: Ben Shepherd, Consulting Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House
At the height of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), around 30,000 children were involved in the fighting. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) estimates that girls make up 30 to 40 per cent of all children currently associated with armed groups, but only around seven per cent of children released to date. Girls suffer extreme hardship, both in the ranks of armed groups, where they are often sexually abused by other soldiers, and upon their return to their community, where they are frequently shunned. Support for the recovery and reintegration of returned girl child soldiers is, however, extremely scarce.
This event will discuss Child Soldiers International’s report, What the Girls Say: Improving Practices for the Demobilization and Reintegration of Girls in DRC. The findings of the report are based on interviews with 150 girls, as well as local authority officials, community leaders and members of community-based child protection networks, carried out in 2016. The speakers will discuss the findings of the report, implications for policymakers and practitioners, and the application of Child Soldiers International’s Practical Guide: To Foster Community Acceptance of Girls Associated with Armed Groups in DR Congo, which was developed in response to feedback given by interviewees.