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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

PREFACE

ACORD’s work in Africa over the last three decades has focused its resources on the most challenged, remote, poverty prone and conflict ridden parts of the continent. This has enabled us to experience first hand the repercussions of the senseless di- vergences relating to power, religion and resources, which often culminate in war. These conflict and post conflict experiences have also given us an appreciation and strong desire to bring about sustainable resolution and peace while ensuring the participation of communities in these processes.

‘A Lost Generation’ Young People and Conflict In Africa is a by product of our analy- sis of ACORD’s Conflict and Gender thematic programmes. It is a response to an identified gap; needing to link interventions which focus primarily on women and men, to that of the unique needs of youth and particularly girls who have proven the most vulnerable in times of conflict and post conflict.

This research has enabled me to appreciate the wealth of the Oral Testimony tool as it has given a voice to the youth and particularly girls in the conflict and post conflict contexts of Burundi, Northern Uganda and Angola. Through their experi- ences we see the reality of sadness, suffering and rejection which is their world. It also increases our sensitivity to the fact that they are only representative of the millions of girls in Chad, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Sierra Leone among other countries, who have experienced the horror and abuses of war and lived with and through the trauma to tell their story.

Much has been documented on conflict and abuse. However this resource provides a new understanding of the dynamics of conflict as seen through the eyes of young girls. Their vulnerability is heart wrenching and the type and extent of abuse and stigmatization experienced in the absence of comfort and support is a source of shame. Further it highlights the absence of law, order, recourse mechanisms for justice and the blatant impunity of the perpetrator. It brings to the fore the unique position of a child mother consequent to conflict and the dilemma of this victim who rejected by family and community. It also triggers queries as to the future of child mothers and a rejected generation of children borne out of abuse.

This book serves as a challenge to me as an individual, its readership, the entire de- velopment community and governments to partake at various levels in the reversal of this cycle of violence and sexual abuse which has become characteristic of war. There is an urgent need to strengthen law, order, peace and security structures. It is my hope that this publication affords the voice of youth its rightful place in representation and participation in developing responses tailored to address their unique needs and facilitate healing and restoration.

Ousainou Ngum Executive Director, ACORD

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