Demobilization of Rwandan Child Combatants who Fought in the Great Lakes Region (1996-2003)

This study aimed to investigate how specific needs of the Rwandan child combatants who fought in the Great Lakes Region are being addressed in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) processes. Data collected by the use of semistructured interviews of demobilised child combatants and key informants revealed that many children were recruited after being orphaned, separated from parents, or because of their search for physical and psychological security which was threatened by war and its immediate effects. Further, it was found that child combatants experienced harsh living conditions in the bush due to both the nature of their work as combatants and their physical and mental immaturity. As far as the DDR processes are concerned, the study revealed many weaknesses in addressing the specific needs of child combatants at least until January 2004. However, there has been a significant positive shift in dealing with the same needs since then. The absence of female child combatants in the DDR process was noted. This research concludes with a number of recommendations for both future interventions and further research.
Student Number : 0513998G - MA research report - School of Social Sciences - Faculty of Humanities
recruitment, disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration, child combatant, Rwanda, DRC, ex-FAR, ALIR, FDLR