Harnessing traditional practices for use in the reintegration of child soldiers in Africa: examples from Liberia and Burundi

The changing nature of armed conflict has been characterised by the use of children as soldiers. The disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of these children back into society has become a primary concern for post conflict African countries seeking to achieve a sustainable peace. Studies have emphasised the crucial role of a participatory approach as an important factor in ensuring success in reintegration programmes. However, limited attention has been given to traditional cultural practices, such as ritual and cleansing ceremonies for child soldiers, in addressing psychosocial problems as essential components of reintegration. This paper, therefore, focuses on the crucial role and effectiveness of traditional cultural practices within the reintegration of child soldiers in post conflict Liberia and Burundi. Data are derived from content analysis of studies on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes. The author argues that traditional cultural practices are integral to the success of reintegration of child soldiers in post conflict African states.

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Babatunde, Abosede Omowumi