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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 54 / 125

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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

practical action. It seems important to bring hope to these abused young women, who are deep in an abyss of isolation and despair. An echo of this despair can be seen in the interview with Spes: however, our respondents are unusually fortunate, since the material and moral support provided by the ACORD and UNICEF projects has given them a degree of optimism, as interviews with Marie and Rose illustrate. The ‘Restoring Peace Project’ in Burundi assisted the child mothers and selected young girls to find ways to re-integrate, re-socialize and to reconstruct their lives. Many others have not been so supported.

To remove girls from their isolation and desperation needs combined efforts from interveners. But before that, much groundwork needs to be done to inform them about this issue and to bring it constantly into the centre of debates. In advocating to protect girls from violence in conflict periods and to support their reintegration in post-conflict programmes, this present collection of testimonies is nowhere near enough, but can be seen as a step along the way. In allowing the girls to express the misfortune and suffering they have endured at so young an age, the testimonies enable those with the power to act, to think again, and to start questioning the weakness of their commitment to gender equality in post-conflict reintegration and reconstruction programmes. It is urgent that their interventions result in equity and ensure equal benefits to all those categories that have no voice and no-one to defend their interests.

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