Visit to Mozambique – April 1999

On the occasion of a conference in Maputo, the Special Representative visited Mozambique from 18 to 22 April 1999 to assess the situation of children in the aftermath of the protracted armed conflict, which ended in 1992.

During his visit to Mozambique, the Special Representative met with senior government officials, with the leadership of Resistncia Nacional Mo├žambicana (RENAMO), and with Gra├ža Machel. He also met with the United Nations country team and local and international non-governmental organizations.

The Special Representative was impressed by Mozambique as a “success story”. Several aspects of Mozambique’s success should augur well for children: the process of national reconciliation; the building of a genuine multi-party democratic practice; a strong sense of national cohesion; and an impressive rate of economic growth in recent years.

The Special Representative noted several important lessons to be learned from the Mozambican experience:

  • Including the protection and welfare of children on peace agendas. Children’s protection and welfare were not on the peace agenda in Mozambique and, as a result, no special framework or arrangements were made for their benefit and protection in the post-conflict phase. For example, exceedingly few children were formally included in the demobilization and reintegration process;
  • Post-conflict arrangements and resource allocation. The Mozambique experience underscores the importance of a national body to ensure that the rights and welfare of children will be a central concern in the aftermath of conflict and that this will be reflected in national priority-setting, policy-making and resource allocation. In the case of Mozambique, this was left to weakened national institutions, which lacked the resources and the capacity to respond effectively to this overwhelming challenge;
  • The challenge of demining. Like many countries emerging from periods of protracted conflict, Mozambique still suffers from the enormous problems caused by the indiscriminate use of mines. Mozambique has embarked on a serious programme of demining, but present technology is utterly inadequate for the task. One deminer can clear only approximately 50 square metres per day. More and urgent support must be given to current efforts to develop more efficient technology;
  • Lack of countrywide access. Often in the aftermath of conflict there is a problem of access to many parts of a country. It is important for United Nations agencies, bilateral agencies and the international and local non-governmental organizations to break through that barrier and to seek to service war-affected populations throughout the country;
  • “Lessons learned’ and “best practices’. The Special Representative noted that very little had been recorded on the course and impact of interventions aimed at children in the aftermath of the war. United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations should make it a point to monitor and evaluate the impact of international and local interventions on behalf of children, in order to facilitate the learning of lessons for the affected country and others facing similar situations.