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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

are consequences of systems and practices reinforced by political, economic, social

or cultural factors.

Sustainable responses for change can only

root causes are addressed in order to avoid an eternal continual exploitation of children’s vulnerabilities.

recurrence

be of

achieved if conflict and

In the last two decades young boys and girls in Africa have been targeted by armed groups and forced to take up arms to kill against their own will and also be killed, tortured sexually, physically and mentally while the perpetrators have been allowed to walk and live freely without being made accountable for their crimes. The chapters in this volume highlight and challenge the increasing social injustices that birth and breed conflict in Africa and the unethical use and abuse of children in war and post-war situations. This volume is therefore intended to be of use to anyone concerned with young people in war-affected situations, at advocacy, policy

and practitioner levels. Framing the research

Through numerous international policy and legal frameworks addressing the subject of children and youth in armed conflict, dating back to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the international community has a clear mandate to carry out and support interventions in this area. However in practice interventions have tended to be limited to the work of specialised child protection and child rights agencies such as UNICEF and the Save the Children Federation. With the rise of the ‘child soldier’ phenomenon, and the high international media profile given to child soldiers, there has been increased international interest in this particular aspect of the issue. A number of organisations have been established including the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, and this has led to some improvements in the treatment of children in, for example, disarmament processes. Despite this, recent research has highlighted the neglect of girl ex-soldiers, who are estimated to constitute up to 40% of the child soldiers participating in armed movements (Save the Children 2005; Mazurana and Mckay 2004).

Atrocious as the experience of child soldiers may be, with its associations of extreme violence, abduction and sexual exploitation, such children are a numerical minority compared to the huge numbers of children and young people who have stayed at home and whose lives have still been blighted in myriad of other ways by armed

conflict and its consequences.

These children – and the adults they grow into

  • have stories that need to be told:

How have young people in Africa experienced

war?

How

have

they

contributed

to

it,

and

how

have

they

resisted

it?

How

has

war impacted upon young people? Once war shape their current lives and future prospects? themes of relevance to these concerns: firstly,

is over, how do their experiences The research explored two broad youth citizenship, or the crisis of

youth

in

post-conflict

social

reconstruction,

where

services

and

employment

are

in

3

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