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close this bookThe Reintegration of War-Affected Youth: The Experience of Mozambique (International Labour Organization, 1997, 52 p.)
close this folder3. Reintegrating war-affected youth into society in Mozambique through vocational skills training programmes
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View the document3.1. The demobilization and reintegration of former youth combatants
View the document3.2. The reintegration of child soldiers
View the document3.3. The reintegration of youth civilians
Open this folder and view contents3.4. Selected examples of mainstream vocational training courses


In reviewing the successes and failures of the reintegration of war-affected youth in Mozambique, one must take care not to confuse reintegration programmes with the reintegration process. A programme can promote a process but it cannot replace it. A wide number of factors, many of which lie far beyond the control of those involved in designing and implementing reintegration programmes, can contribute to the success or failure of certain targeted individuals to reintegrate. Identification and assessment of relevant factors affecting the process of reintegration are of course essential components in the planning stage of a reintegration programme. As will be seen below, this remains an important lesson to be drawn from the experience of Mozambique.

Moreover, although it can sometimes be unhelpful, and even perhaps misleading, to categorize children and youth as members of discrete vulnerable groups (because of the interrelatedness of problems and situations), a certain compartmentalization is almost inevitable. While stressing the grinding poverty that affects the majority of children and youths in Mozambique, a number of additional threats to survival and development characterize those with particular experiences as a result of the war. In seeking to isolate these threats, an initial distinction must be made between those children and young men and women who were active participants in the armed conflict and those who remained civilians throughout the long years of conflict. Rightly or wrongly, this distinction was fundamental to the programmes of reintegration designed and implemented by the international community in Mozambique, at least between 1993 and 1996.1 The mainstay of international effort and resources were directed, intentionally, at the soldiers demobilized from the armies of FRELIMO and RENAMO.

1 Most agencies no longer support programmes designed to benefit solely or primarily ex-combatants. This issue is discussed further below.

The following three sections outline and assess the demobilization and reintegration of youth combatants, child soldiers, and youth civilians, respectively. As will be seen, the targeting of assistance to specific groups of war-affected children and youth came to an end only very recently.