Iv master universitario internazionale in cooperazione allo sviluppo

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Child protection program and local communities

in the Western Area of Sierra Leone

RELATORE: Paolo Giorgi

CANDIDATO: Maddalena Spada


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1 Introduction 5

2 Impact of armed conflicts on children 6

2.1 Patterns and characteristics of contemporary armed conflicts 6

2.2 Child soldiers 8

2.3 Disarmament and Reintegration 10

2.4 International legal protection for children in armed conflicts 11

2.4.1 The rights of child soldiers as children 12

2.4.2 The rights of child soldiers during conflicts 14

3 The case of Sierra Leone 15

3.1 Ten years of civil war 15

3.2 The Macro-economic Situation 19

3.3 The poverty and social situation 20

3.4 Political outlook 23

3.5 An outline of the UN intervention in Sierra Leone 24

4 The COOPI child protection program 27

4.1 Research Methodology 27

4.2 The structure of the program 27

4.3 Interim care centers 28

4.3.1 The center structure 29

4.3.2 The activities 30

4.3.3 Discussion and lesson learnt 31

4.4 Sensitization activities 32

4.4.1 The issues 33

4.4.2 The media used 34

4.4.3 Discussion and lesson learnt 35

4.5 Family tracing 35

4.6 Alternative Care 36

4.6.1 Fostering 37

4.6.2 Group Homes 38

4.6.3 Apprenticeships 39

4.6.4 Independent living 40

4.6.5 Discussion and lesson learnt 40

4.7 Follow up 44

4.7.1 Objectives 44

4.7.2 Methodology 45

4.7.3 Relationship with schools 46

4.7.4 Discussion and lesson learnt 47

4.8 Economic Training Unit 48

4.8.1 The methodology 48

4.8.2 Discussion 49

4.9 Health care 50

4.9.1 Medical Services 50

4.9.2 Health Education 51

4.9.3 Discussion 52

5 Child protection program and local communities 54

5.1 Research Methodology 54

5.2 Lakka 55

5.2.1 Introduction 55

5.2.2 FHM analysis and strategy on the relationship with the community 55

5.2.3 Social-Economic Impact 56

5.2.4 Cultural impact 57

5.2.5 School system impact 58

5.3 Calaba Town 59

5.3.1 Introduction 59

5.3.2 Relationship with the community 60

5.3.3 Social-economic impact 62

5.3.4 Child reintegration 63

6 Conclusions 67

7 Recommendations 70

8 Acknowledgment 71

9 References 72


The research reported here is based on the study done in Freetown, the main city of Sierra Leone, from August to December 2001 and it is promoted by the Italian NGO, Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI). COOPI has been worked in Sierra Leone since 1967, and after the rebel attack to Freetown on January 1999, has become the leading agency for the implementation of the UNICEF child protection program in the country Western Area .

The aim of this study is twofold. First to identify and organize the lessons learnt by COOPI during the three years of program implementation . The experience of COOPI in the reintegration process of child soldiers is a valuable resource that requires to be systematized, in order to be a term of references for other projects.

The second objective is to present the response of the local community to the COOPI program. The research aims at estimating the impact of the child protection on the local community in the Western Area. The intention is that the results of this study, although limited in terms of time and scope, will provide useful information in order to define the new strategy of the program in the post-emergency phase.
The report is organized as follows. First the UN studies done on the child protection issues, in particular about the child soldiers reintegration are briefly summarized, in order to present the theoretical frame in which the Sierra Leone program has born and developed (Chapter 2). Second some background of the country, from the historical, political and economical perspectives, and the main phases of the international community intervention is introduced (Chapter 3). Than the analysis of the COOPI program, focusing on the lessons learnt, is presented and studied as the effort to apply the UN theoretical frame to the particular case of the child soldiers in Sierra Leone (Chapter 4). The community based research is reported separately for the case of two different areas Lakka and Calaba Town of the COOPI intervention (Chapter 5). Finally some concluding remarks (Section 6) prelude the recommendations for a new strategy in the post-emergency phase of the child protection program (Section 7).

2Impact of armed conflicts on children

Since the increasing number of conflicts during the last decades, many studies have been done to evaluate the impact of armed conflicts on children and civilians. The reference document is the report The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, submitted to the November 1996 regular session of the United Nations General Assembly by Graca Machel, a Secretary General Expert on the subject. This document, founded by the United Nations Center for Human Rights (now Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), by the United Children Fund and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has focused the World attention on the issues of the war affected children. The researches, done in the last 5 years, by experts, governments and civil society organizations has resulted in the definition of a complete agenda for the child protection strategies in a war contest. In this section are presented the main results regarding the child soldiers issues. The aim is to highlight the characteristic of the modern conflict, the reasons of the use of children in war, and finally the UN strategy for the children disarmament and reintegration in the society.

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