Recent NEWS

Freeing child soldiers in Central African Republic: ‘They have been through hell’

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Benoit Daoundo is a child protection officer who works for the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) to help release children from armed groups in Central African Republic.

“Nothing could have prepared me for my role as a child protection officer in Central African Republic.

My home country, Benin, has never been at war and I had never seen children associated with armed groups before.

But working with kids had always been my dream. Back home I trained as a social worker and worked with vulnerable children in Benin and local and international NGOs before joining UNICEF.

My family were concerned for me, and a few weeks after I arrived in Central African Republic, violence erupted.

We have been living in our office since June 2014 – rolling our small mattresses under our desks in the morning. Constant and unpredictable insecurity prevents us from living in town.

My first success in releasing children from armed groups started with a very scary meeting outside Bambari in July 2014.

I had been called by the “general” in charge of one of the anti-balaka (militia) groups, and told to come at dawn, with a local aid worker, to discuss the fate of the children.

After a few minutes sitting outside the base in the bush, we realized that the whole group had silently surrounded us – hundreds of fighters in traditional attire, motionless, many of them children who were carrying weapons.

I asked the commander what was happening and he replied that it was for my safety, but I understood that it was over for us.

I explained how important it was for us to educate people about the negative impacts of having children in armed groups.

In short, I talked a lot before he understood this, insisted that I wasn’t going to be harmed and realized I hadn’t come to carry out investigations for the International Criminal Court.

I must confess that I was covered in sweat that day.

BACK TO SCHOOL

“The most rewarding part of my job is probably when I check on the children that have been released from armed groups.

Those children have been through hell, they have seen or done things that no human being should ever have to witness – so reintegrating them into a normal life is always a challenge.

How do you become a normal kid when you have been forced to desecrate the body of your enemy? But there are success stories.

Nothing makes me prouder than seeing them go back to school or, for the older ones, successfully starting a small business.

From time to time, I get a phone call from Ibrahim, a 17-year-old from Cameroon who we helped reunite with his family.

When Ibrahim was released, reuniting him with his family took several months, as he had no ID or birth certificate, and the insecurity made the cross-border reunification even harder.

Just one month after joining his family, Ibrahim called me to say thank you, he told me he was back in school and happy. And he has kept this habit of calling every time something significant happens in his life – mostly good grades at school.

CONVINCING COMMANDERS

“When we first started talking to the local commanders, they could not understand why it was wrong to recruit a child.

They simply said children should be allowed to seek revenge when their family had been killed, or their villages destroyed.

Over the past months, they have understood that children should be kept out of the groups. Of course, there are still thousands of children associated with the armed groups.

We are still pushing to release them, although we know the most challenging part of the process is giving those children a healthy and sustainable future once they have been released.

This is a long process, that we will continue in the months, and probably years, to come. I just hope the country will find lasting peace, so these children can have a chance to build a future for themselves.”

This aid worker profile is one of five commissioned by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit on the biggest issues affecting the humanitarian response to disasters and conflict.

41 Comments on Freeing child soldiers in Central African Republic: ‘They have been through hell’

  1. That is really fascinating, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and sit up for in the hunt for extra of your wonderful post.

    Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  2. I am no longer positive the place you are getting your information, however good topic.
    I needs to spend a while learning much more or working out more.

    Thank you for excellent info I used to be looking
    for this info for my mission.

  3. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I
    am impressed! Extremely helpful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info much.
    I was seeking this particular information for a very
    long time. Thank you and good luck.

  4. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.
    I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will often come back
    very soon. I want to encourage one to continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

  5. Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get
    started and set up my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

  6. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think
    I would never understand. It seems too complex and very
    broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try
    to get the hang of it!

  7. Nice weblog right here! Also your website so much up fast!
    What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate link on your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  8. Great items from you, man. I’ve take note your stuff
    previous to and you are just extremely magnificent. I actually like what you’ve received
    here, really like what you are stating and the way
    in which by which you say it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it
    sensible. I can’t wait to learn far more from you.
    That is actually a great web site.

  9. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn. That is an extremely smartly written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more
    of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly
    return.

  10. I think this is one of the most vital information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The website
    style is perfect, the articles is really nice : D.
    Good job, cheers

  11. You actually make it seem so easy together with
    your presentation but I to find this topic to be really one thing that I
    believe I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and very vast for me.
    I am taking a look forward to your subsequent submit,
    I’ll try to get the grasp of it!

  12. Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Pretty part of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I will be subscribing in your feeds or even I fulfillment
    you get right of entry to constantly fast.

  14. It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m glad
    that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please
    keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I think this is one of the most significant info for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The site style
    is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  16. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to
    understand this topic. You understand so much its almost hard
    to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which
    has been discussed for ages. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

  17. Undeniably imagine that that you stated. Your favourite justification seemed to
    be at the internet the easiest factor to remember of. I say to you, I definitely
    get annoyed whilst folks think about issues that they plainly do not realize about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and also outlined out the entire
    thing with no need side-effects , other people could take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  18. Hi I am so grateful I found your website, I really found you by accident, while
    I was searching on Google for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a remarkable post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to look over it all at the moment but I have
    book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more,
    Please do keep up the superb job.

  19. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I
    came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and
    will be tweeting this to my followers! Superb blog and terrific style and design.

  20. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad
    for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll
    try to get the hang of it!

  21. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve remember your stuff prior
    to and you are simply extremely fantastic. I actually like what you’ve bought here, really like what
    you are stating and the best way by which you are
    saying it. You’re making it entertaining and you still
    take care of to keep it wise. I cant wait to learn much more from you.
    This is actually a wonderful website.

  22. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site
    and in accession capital to say that I get in fact loved account your weblog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your augment or even I achievement you get right of entry to constantly rapidly.

  23. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything.
    But think about if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more,
    “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this site could undeniably be one
    of the most beneficial in its niche. Superb blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*