A Study of the Reintegration of Former Child Soldiers: The Case of GUSCO, Northern Uganda

Article Authors: Obika Julaina Asinasi


The provision of basic needs such as food, shelter, security, identity and recognition is central in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the war-torn areas of Africa and indeed around the world. The war in northern Uganda, in particular, has taken its toll on the people of that area for more than 20 years and in the process, has witnessed the children facing some of the worst effects of armed conflicts known to man. This study investigated the role played by the Gulu Support the Children Organisation (GUSCO) in the reintegration of former child soldiers in Northern Uganda. GUSCO is however in favour of the term Formerly Abducted Children (FAC) as this is less prone to acts of stigmatisation against those who have faced some of the most horrific abuses known to human kind. It focused on the process of reintegration of the FAC in relation to the human needs theory which has been used as a basis for conflict resolution practices.[Read more]
The researcher conducted extensive face-to-face interviews with the employees of GUSCO who work in various fields as social workers, counsellors, health workers and teachers, who tend to the needs of the FAC daily. The researcher was also able to carryout observations of the activities that take place at the GUSCO reception centre where the children are rehabilitated. The organisation’s official documents were also consulted in order to carryout this triangular study and collect data. The major themes constructed from the study include: the empowerment and development of the FAC through education and skills training; health care provision to meet both physical and psychological needs; community empowerment and development and finally peacebuilding and reconciliation which involves the participation of whole communities to meet their needs and rebuild the war-torn northern Uganda.

The researcher highlights some challenges that GUSCO faces in trying to reintegrate the former combatants albeit children into a routine of a community that struggles to recover from a war that continues to persist after twenty years. Several recommendations are made for GUSCO and civil societies who have given themselves the mandate to work towards salvaging the future generations of Uganda and Africa as a whole.[/read]

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