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“If I Could Go To School…”: Education as a tool to prevent the recruitment of girls and assist with their recovery and reintegration in Democratic Republic of Congo

In January-February 2016, a research team spent six weeks in DRC (South Kivu, North Kivu and Haut Uélé provinces) and interviewed 150 girls about the circumstances of their recruitment, their experience within the armed groups, and the difficulties they are facing upon returning to their families and communities. All interviewed participants were aged between 12 and 19, and had been recruited as children. Their opinions and experiences provided a unique and crucial insight into the interventions which are needed for more effective recovery and reintegration programmes for girls. 

The researchers also consulted UN and NGO actors in eastern DRC, and interviewed 84 members of Child Protection Community Networks (known in French as “RECOPE”); 46 DDR actors; and 14 local government officials in order to find out how they help girls return home and the impact of reintegration programmes on their lives. 

Education emerged from the research as a powerful factor in preventing girls from joining armed groups, in providing opportunities for returning girl soldiers, and in promoting their social acceptance. The girls identified that schooling was something they wish for, but is seldom made available to them. We also identified complementary practices for the release and reintegration of former girl soldiers. The findings will be fully detailed in a subsequent comprehensive report, once the next phase of the research is complete.


Published 2019-01-07