Child Soldiers and the Disarmament Process
by Simeon Sahr Komba, age 19, W.A.M Collegiate Secondary School
Relative peace is prevailing in the country. At present of the 12 administrative districts in the country ,10 have officially disarmed to the UN peace keeping mission (UNAMSIL) in Sierra Leone . These ex-child combatants comprise of childsoldiers who have also disarmed .
The ex-child combatants that have disarmed are slowly getting back to normal life.
They have feaful stories to tell of their life with the former fighting forces -Revolutionary United Front(RUF), the Civil Defence Force(CDF), the Sierra Leone Army(SLA) as well as the vigilant forces . Some of these ex-child fighters were used as sex slaves and some as carriers of looted goods ,recky forces as well as reguler combat troops . These child fighters saw combat and were forced to wicked things in their communities. This was to force the child soldiers to stay permanently in the gang to which they belong , for protection as well as for fear of revenge if they return to their areas of origin. This kept the children far away from home for a long time .
Even after disarmanent most of the ex-child combatants cannot easily go back to their homes .Some are afraid of reprisals, others have attempted but have been refused by their own very families and relatives , while others cannot trace their family members.The misery of the ex-child combatants continue but the nationaal commission for disarmament demobilisation and reintegration(NCDDR) is doing a lot to assist the children after the disarmament , the child soldiers who want to go to school or learn skills are registered into institutions . The NCDDR pays their fee give them allowances monthly for up-keep and school materials and check on their progress from time to time .
NCDDR is also working with child interest organisations like CARITAS(makeni) a catholic organisation, COOPI and Italian NGO,GOAL(Ireland) and local NGO's like children affected by war(CAW) and others to trace families of the ex-combatants as well as counsel them. These organisations are also busy with government sensitising the community to accept the ex-combatants into society,local radio stations also produce programmes that will help the children to be accepted into their various communities . These are programmes runned by the government, planning the reintegration of the ex-child combatants.
Children associated with the war are slowly leaving the lives of combating. The problem that is now pressing the children is education. In this areas also the government has made education free up to class vi(6) and has decided to pay for all external examinations.
Children are slowly integrating into society as peace is returning to the nation.