The role of the church in the reintegration of ex-child soldiers in North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of Congo (1996-2008)
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The research was focused on the role of the church in the reintegration of ex-child soldiers in North Kivu the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the 1996 and 1998 conflicts, many armed groups were involved, all of which recruited children among their ranks. They include the Interahamwe, the AFDL, the FZA, the Mai-Mai and PARECO, RCD and the CNDP. To work against recruitment and the use of children, the CONADER was created as the national institution responsible for the planning and implementation of the DDR programs for children. Some institutions such as UNICEF, CARITAS, MONUC and Save the Children assisted the DRC Government to attain its objectives. Some children were demobilized and reintegrated into their families. However, many former child soldiers are still wandering on the roads villages looking for survival. The presence of a big number of churches in North Kivu is not insignificant. As social institutions, they can help in collaboration with existing organisations to contribute towards and implementing the process of reintegration of ex-child soldiers. The research sought to examine the role the church can play in effective reintegration of former child soldiers in North Kivu. To achieve the assigned objectives, both qualitative and quantitative methodologies were used. To stop the recruitment of children and their use by any armed groups or forces church leaders proposed the denunciation of bad acts of political or military leaders through pastoral letters dialoguing with political or military leaders for a common cause and encouraging children to run away from political or military leaders. For effective reintegration of FCS and for the sake of peace in North Kivu, church leaders proposed the following: physical, psychological, social, economical rehabilitation and health care; teaching of the Gospel, Coalition of churches in collaboration with the DRC Government local national and international NGOs collection of food and money to help FCS persuading ex-child soldiers’ families to deal with their children and Constitution of the office for counselling ex-child soldiers and have proposed education, skills training in favour FCS, withdrawing of fire arms from FCS, ruler of law and punishment of violators children rights by the DRC Government and provision of funds by international NGOs to church.