On 6 June, an event on the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups and armed forces, organized by the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, demonstrated the value of successful reintegration programs for former child soldiers.
Kabba Williams, former child soldier from Sierra Leone. Photo: OSRSG-CAAC
The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Representatives of Poland, Belgium, France, Germany, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Switzerland, Liberia, and UNICEF, and moderated by Ms. Joanna Wronecka, the Permanent Representative from Poland.
Kabba Williams, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, made an impassioned plea to highlight the difficulties he faced to rebuild his life following his ordeal, but also brought hope by adding that “If the international community responds adequately, with the right tools, it is possible to win them (child soldiers) back”.
Through concrete country examples, the Permanent Representative from Liberia and the Deputy Permanent Representative from Sierra Leone reiterated how reintegration programs were designed and implemented, and how they contributed to support peacebuilding efforts as their countries were recovering from conflict.
During the event, Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, emphasized the importance of rebuilding children’s lives, and explained that achieving the long-term support and sustainability of reintegration programs would be a priority of her tenure.
UNICEF, the UN lead agency for reintegration, presented challenges and opportunities to keep improving this essential work for children affected by conflict.
Finally, Hiba Qaraman, from Child Soldiers International, spoke on behalf of NGOs, and highlighted the specific needs of girls in reintegration programs.
You can find out more about reintegration by reading this brochure prepared by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.