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Project: Children in Armed Conflict in Africa (INTERACT Project)

The INTERACT project, funded by UNU, Norwegian Government and Canadian Government, is intended to stop the practice of using children in war by conducting an extensive survey of the problem of child soldiers in Africa. A special emphasis is placed on girl combatants and their reintegration into society after the conflicts. This is a multi-disciplinary research that synthesizes materials and literature from diverse academic disciplines, as well as from practitioners and policy makers. In order to understand how and why the phenomenon of child soldiers takes specific characteristics in one context and not in another the studies are to be carried out in different countries, within different regions with a view of developing an integrated comparative analysis between different conflict situations. The project outputs, that will be widely disseminated, will include policy-oriented papers and reports, academic articles and books, an interactive website, a photographic book and exhibitions (art and photo). These outcomes will compliment the efforts of a number of actors already providing assistance to children affected by armed conflict: UN agencies, such as SRSGCAC, UNICEF, UNHCR, and WHO; international and local NGOs; national governments; and civil societies.

Methods of work:

  • Undertaking an extended survey of the extent of the problem of child soldiers and child abductions in Africa (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda)

  • Undertaking research into the special conditions associated with the plight of the girl combatant/abductee, with particular reference to their social reintegration and the contribution such as a person can provide to her own community and country once successfully reintegrated

  • Conducting field surveys to explore indigenous mechanisms to cope with the reintegration of abducted children and/or demobilized child solders and girl combatants

  • Undertaking a survey of military personnel about their perceptions regarding child solders and girl combatants as opponents or as comrades

  • Creating a training module for international and regional peacekeeping forces on how to deal with child soldiers and girl combatants in the field in the pursuit of peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, demobilization and peace operations

  • Enlarging the ACT photographic exhibit on a yearly basis and placing the collection permanently at the headquarters of the OAU or similar organizations. Special emphasis will be placed on the plight of girl combatants and adbuctees.