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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 244-259

What happens when child soldiers grow up? The Mozambique case study

Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and Director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He also has served in senior positions for UNHCR, UNICEF and Save the Children

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This article offers findings on the first longitudinal study of life outcomes for former child soldiers. Between 1988 and 2004, information was prospectively collected on 39 male former child soldiers in Mozambique. The data show that, after 16 years, the vast majority of this group of former child soldiers have become productive, capable and caring adults. At the same time, none of them are truly free from their pasts. They all struggle with psychological distress connected to their experiences as child soldiers, and rely solely on themselves, families and friends for comfort and support when they get in psychological trouble. The study also identified specific interventions that were important to enable these former child soldiers a substantial recovery and reintegration. Apprenticeships, as well as community sensitization campaigns, community works projects and outward support of traditional community rites were some of the most important activities related to the successful recovery of many of the former child soldiers.

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