Unfulfilled promises, unsettled youth: the aftermath of conflict for former child soldiers in Yumbe District, north western Uganda

This article addresses the long term impact of having been a child soldier in Yumbe District, Uganda. Within this district, a group of former child soldiers fell beyond the scope of almost all reintegration initiatives from the time a peace agreement was signed in 2002. Ten years after the youths’ return from the bush, the authors used a qualitative approach to understand their present situation. It was found that serious grievances were still expressed by the former child soldiers towards organisations that had promised them some form of support, but did not fulfil these promises. The effect of these promises being broken and renewed, repeatedly, over an extended period of time has provoked a sense of helplessness and anger. The authors show how this group of youth try to navigate these emotions within their daily lives. The findings also point to the importance of taking historical, cultural and political contexts into account in order to fully understand the effects of post conflict experiences of ‘former child soldiers’.

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Both, Jonna; Reis, Ria