Effective reintegration of ex-child soldiers for a peace process. A case study of Southern Kivu, in the DRC (1996-2009).
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The study was carried out on the pertinence of effective reintegration of ex-child soldiers for the Kivu post-conflict peace process. The research examined important issues such as the causes and inducements to enrollment of youths into armed conflict, the nature and modes of recruitment of children into armed forces and the negative consequences in case of failure of effective reintegration .In addition, the study tried to understand why the national commission appointed for DDR program(CONADER) went awry and why some demobilized ex-combatants still have guns . The fate of girls associated with armed groups was assessed in line with the ongoing overall peace process as for reintegration of ex-child soldiers. In keeping with its theoretical framework, the study tried to show how frustration may lead ex-child soldiers to relapsing into armed conflict and thus be once more used by opportunistic adventurers. However, for reaching its objectives, the research used a spectrum of methods compatible with both analytical and quantitative paradigms as well as some relevant techniques as auxiliaries. Thus, 114 individuals representing different layers of society were contacted through a questionnaire. Structured interview were administered to 52 ex-child soldiers so as to get their opinion about the overall Kivu peace process with a special emphasis on the DDR program of former child soldiers. A binary pattern of recruitment was pointed out and a range of determinants related to structural violence pinpointed. It emerged that all respondents were dissatisfied with the way the CONADER (National Commission tasked with DDR) implemented its work by not reaching remote areas, nor being gender sensitive or trustworthy with regard to the management of funds and promised relief aids. Above all, the study discovered the failure of grassroots reconciliation and mercantile aspects of both war and peace processes which have stakeholders and shareholders from within and without as one of the big challenges of effective reintegration of ex-combatants in South Kivu. All this explains why some ex- combatants still have guns and why others rejoin armed factions after they had at first demobilized.