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Burundi: Plight of children

Burundi: Plight of children


Resolutions between opposing sides to end child recruitment by the United Nations in Burundi and other clauses that were agreed upon,to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate these children seems to have paid off. 3,300 children who were soldiers have been demobilized from these units which included those from the Burundi Armed Forces.

To date, over 700 children have managed to return to school. The goal is to reach 1,200 children and send them back to school.

Most parties have committed to stop recruiting under-18 into their fronts. Representatives of the five armed groups were appointed to the national structure for children to help combat this indulgence.

Since 2006, over 100,000 people including women and children have been displaced within Burundi, while 150,000 have taken refuge in the neighboring countries like Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thousand of children affected in the conflict with many recruited into armed groups.

There have been claims of children still being recruited by the National Liberation Forces led by Agathon Rwasa despite the dialogue initiated by the United Nations. The National Liberation Forces is accused of mercilessly slaughtering 166 women and children at Gatumba refugee camp in the night of August 13, 2004.

Burundi has signed and ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Children’s Rights in armed conflict . According to UNICEF, children demobilized from the armed groups are not hesitant to go back to the fronts. Most of them need to be integrated back ton the society through counseling despite that many are orphans. The government forces have also been reported to have attacked children from rebellious regions.

United Nations and France

France involvement has positively impacted in the demobilization and reintegration process by the United Nations in Burundi. The program has jointly been funded by the world bank and other 11 nations in which a specific section of the the demobilized children are directly entrusted to the project. The program, which is the largest in the world, aims to support in demobilization and reintegration of former fighters in the Great Lakes region. It affects seven countries including Burundi.

UNICEF has been working together with churches and other self groups in the entire lake region to reintegrate children. Though there have been insufficiency in the social worker in this regions to carry on this initiative. The World Bank has allocated 100,000 Burundi Franc to children who have resorted to join trainings and one million to those who have chosen farming and ranching.

The initiative ‘’ Bring and keep children in school ‘was developed by UNICEF to support the President’s decision to introduce free primary education in Burundi. UNICEF has also build many schools and also installed water supply to schools.

France has also put in place 2.5 million Euro in combating humanitarian crisis in Burundi. The objective of the project is to assist in the socio-economic reintegration of all victims, including children who were once soldiers.The project has been integrated into various levels which will eventually help in the reintegration of street children” of the Association Forum for Peace and Development. Other projects are under consideration.