RESTORING SHATTERED CHILDHOODS, A DEBT TO HUMANITY : Learning from the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Process for Children in Sierra Leone
An attempt to bring together a set of conceptual and theoretical issues related to the programming of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Process for child soldiers in Sierra Leone. By questioning if the programmes have considered cultural and contextual specificities, this is a qualitative case study based in the text analysis of secondary data from a number of different researchers and practitioners from the field. The latter will be done by correlating conceptual and theoretical dilemmas based in the definition of child soldiers and their navigational skills, and will be analyzed under four topics chosen to present the cultural and contextual specificities of this case. Conclusions and recommendations will leave in evidence the fact that in the case of Sierra Leone, the DDR programme for children did not prioritize a cross- cultural approach and deliberately ignored navigational skills from former child soldiers, it delegitimized local initiatives for reintegration, failed in promoting a gender-sensitive component in the programme, and demonstrates a lack of cooperation between humanitarian and development agencies, which have been insistently westernized. The case of Sierra Leone is an interesting experience from which much can be learned, but mostly because it highlights the fact that each case is different and the urgency of considering the improvement of aid in a more individualized perspective.
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