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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

to those who come into contact with them, bringing disgrace and disaster to their communities. Yet at the same time, the fact that they have shown extraordinary capacity and resilience, have made independent decisions about their lives, and have generally taken responsibility for the children they have borne in such difficult circumstances, is consistently overlooked by adults in positions of decision-making

power.

A third hypothesis was that discrimination against young people operates at all levels: within their own communities, amongst local and national institutions such as employers, schools, and the police, and amongst intervention agencies, both local and international. This too has been amply borne out by the evidence of the research, as seen through the testimonies of the girls themselves as well as interviews with those in authority. The problem is not one of policy inadequacy alone, as much of the discrimination comes directly from the girls’ own communities even when policies are in place. On the other hand, those who are in positions of decision-making with regards to policies and resources have done little to influence the girls’ reception in their communities.

Finally,

the

research

predicted

the

absence

of

post-war

initiatives

addressing

the

needs of

young people,

girls and

child mothers.

and more

specifically

This too

appears to

that address the be the case. The

needs of young wars in Uganda

and Burundi have had massive and varied impacts on those countries’ people, society and economy, while nevertheless affecting groups within the population in different ways. Reconstruction and peace-building interventions should recognise that different responses are required, as are appropriate for each category. Yet projects designed for this group are few and far between, despite evidence that the young people encountered through the ‘Restoring Peace Project’ respond to opportunities, where they exist, with enthusiasm and commitment. ‘Restoring Peace Project’ empowered young people through supporting their practical needs including livelihood skills, life skills, and building young people’s capacities to exercise their civic rights. The advocacy work of the project was based on meeting

practical needs at the community levels.

Research Conclusions

The case studies and the analysis chapters in this book clearly points out two facts; that there is no armed conflict without youth participation, and that young people are negatively affected by armed conflict. Their involvement in conflict is both as victims and as perpetrators. While the majority of young people are forcefully conscripted into armed groups, a few join ‘voluntarily’. A child’s decision to join armed groups cannot be justified and accepted as normal or legitimate. Sometimes the reasons for ‘voluntary’ enlistment by young people are vengeance,

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