Challenges of resettlement and rehabilitation of child mothers in conflict situations: a case study of Gulu District (1995-2005).
Bazira, Josephine Lynn
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This work studies the challenges of resettlement and rehabilitation of child mothers in conflict situations. The research was conducted in Gulu district. The research has discovered that the needs of the child mothers are not adequately met in the rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and the programmes available are insufficient. There are centers that focus on looking after these child mothers, these centers have carried out advocacy for the child mothers including allocation of some resources for this purpose, but in doing this, the child mothers are not consulted. The current DDR programs are designed to work in a post conflict situation so they do no adequately cater for the special needs of child mothers. In the case of Northern Uganda, the rehabilitation centers and other stake holders like the local government try to ensure that all child mothers get some form of rehabilitation and are fully reintegrated with their families. There are no laid down procedures of tracking the child mothers that do no pass through the centers and monitoring their progress. The number of child mothers in Gulu cannot be approximated as a few pass through the rehabilitation centers and the bigger number do not go through the centers. The study makes three conclusions: a) There are large numbers of emerging challenges that need to be addressed to ensure that the child mothers get effective help and are resettled well, in their communities. b) Formal DDR processes are by nature high profile processes, and do not meet the needs of the child mothers who choose to keep a low profile. c) Child mothers require a longer period of rehabilitation and follow-up than other returnees, and they have a need for consistent follow up. It further recommends that: a) Current DDR Programs are not the right mechanism to facilitate the exit of child mothers. They should be redesigned to be more inclusive of child mothers and take into account the ongoing conflict in northern Uganda. b) The rehabilitation and reintegration programs should combine community-based activities within their program concept. The local CBOs and NGOs constitute a large network that operates within the camps and which can be useful since they reach places that the international and large NGOs cannot reach. c) A family based approach should be used when working with the child mothers. d) A policy in favour of child mothers should be designed by government and other stakeholders. A policy statement setting the minimum standards that should be applied for child mothers regardless of whether they have passed through reception centers or not.