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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
View the document(introduction...)
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

3.3. The reintegration of youth civilians

The armed conflict in Mozambique dislocated and displaced an estimated 6 million Mozambicans, 4.3 million internally and 1.7 million as refugees across into neighbouring Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. UNHCR facilitated the repatriation of some 375,000 refugees, providing them with transport and reception facilities. In UNHCR's largest ever post-repatriation assistance programme (costing $100 million to implement), reintegration and rehabilitation activities were undertaken throughout almost the entire country.1

1 UNHCR, Rebuilding a war-torn society: A review of the UNHCR Reintegration Programme for Mozambican Returnees, July 1996, p. 1.

Referring to the situation of the returning refugees, UNHCR reported that:

While there is a lack of empirical data on the subject, returnees seem to have a standard of living and health status which is comparable with - and in some instances perhaps better than - that of other members of the population.2

2 ibid., p. 3.

They reported that although some of the younger returnees, often prompted by their parents, returned to their former countries of asylum in order to look for work, there were no large-scale refugee backflows.3

The vast majority of returnees ... are peasant farmers. The key to successful reintegration is their ability to grow enough food. While returnees (like others in Mozambique) have a wide variety of survival strategies and coping mechanisms, they all start with having a successful small farm. If returnees can, within one or two seasons, be growing “enough” food, their reintegration will be successful. If they don't, no number of schools, health posts or water points will make much difference.4

3 ibid.

4 ibid., p. 8.

UNHCR's assessment of its Mozambique programme, as laudable for the transparency of its unrestricted distribution as for the quality of the analysis, found that:

With its logistical system, field presence and implementing partners in place, the organization evidently had the potential to extend its activities beyond the mid-1996 phase-out date designated in the reintegration strategy. To have done so, however, would have taken UNHCR beyond the immediate task of reintegrating and stabilizing displaced populations and into a semi-developmental realm which many donors consider to lie outside of the organization's mandate ... [Yet] while UNHCR was wise to retain its original phase-out date, it is evident that the reintegration strategy should have been formulated at a much earlier stage of the peace process and integrated with the planning of the repatriation movement. In fact, the organization had a tendency to treat repatriation and reintegration as two distinct and consecutive tasks, with the latter being considered in a systematic manner only when the former was well on the way to completion.5

5 ibid., p. 18.

The failure to plan adequately is strikingly resonant of some of the concerns about the reintegration programmes for the demobilized soldiers. Of course, as one UNHCR staff member commented: “It is only human to become totally immersed in the hectic repatriation and food distribution routine, and only marginally attend to the reintegration work.”

The report recommends inter alia that a follow-up evaluation be undertaken for mid- to late 1997, in order to assess the effectiveness of the UNHCR reintegration programme in a longer-term perspective. Discussion of UNHCR's future role in reintegration continues with some arguing the need for longer term-commitments, in part as a result of the experience in Mozambique.

The situation of returnees internally displaced is less well known and less well documented. Hundreds of thousands of families were displaced or drawn into the cities by the long years of war, and in particular as a result of the destruction of food stocks and crops. A research team of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) found in 1995 that internally displaced children were disadvantaged when compared with refugee children, either because resources had not been made available to the internally displaced or because the ongoing conflict had prevented resources reaching the displaced.1

1 W. Njuguna et al., Children and armed conflicts in Africa: An assessment of the state of women and children who have been displaced by war in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, ANPPCAN Regional Office, May 1995, p. 5.

Internal displacement continues to be an issue in post-conflict Mozambique. Displaced families remain in, especially, peri-urban areas unwilling to return home to the countryside as they fear that little or no infrastructure awaits them. An indirect consequence is the thousands of children and youngsters who drift along or into the streets of Maputo, Beira, Chimoio and Quelimane. As stated by Ana Marai Loforte, “the phenomenon of street children is common in many cities around the world and is frequently related to rapid urbanization and industrialization or profound socio-economic crises.”2 In the case of Mozambique, however, she believes that the majority of children found in the street are the consequence of war and the accompanying political, military, economic and social destabilization.

2 A.M. Loforte, “Street children in Mozambique”, in International Journal of Children's Rights, Vol. 2 (1994), p. 149.

The war, which destroyed the vast majority of Mozambique's economic and social infrastructure, has forced numerous families (some of which are already separated or fragmented) to abandon their villages and seek refuge in the cities in search of safety and better living conditions. They leave their areas of cultivation which, under normal circumstances, guarantee a degree of nutritional security, and travel to urban centers where the socio-economic situation is constantly changing and where the network of services (health, education, and food supply) is long since saturated and cannot support any more users. One consequence is numerous children in the streets, some of whom are sent out by their parents looking for means to sustain themselves or means to make money to contribute to the meagre family budget.3

3 ibid.

The study conducted by Ms. Loforte distinguished two types of street children: children of the street (i.e. those who are orphaned or abandoned and actually living in the streets); and children on the streets (those who live with their families by night, but who work during the day to help support their families). The most common work activities include: transporting bundles of fish, boxes of fruit, vegetables and crates of beer; washing or guarding cars; begging; transporting fishing nets, or fishing; carrying out tasks such as delivering messages, shopping and looking after the children of certain families.4 No one knows how many children there are in each category although the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport estimates that there are 11,000 to 12,000 children in the streets of Maputo and some 30,000 in all the cities of Mozambique.5

4 ibid, p. 157.

5 Joseves Maluleca, National Director for Youth Associations, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, discussion with the author, 11 Dec. 1996.

The vast majority of the street children are boys. One expert ascribed this to African culture which determined that boys could take care of themselves and could earn money whereas girls should be at home.6 It is believed, however, that the number of girl prostitutes, many as young as 12 or 13, continues to increase. According to UNICEF, for example:

... there has been a dramatic upsurge in the number of street children in recent years and the phenomenon is becoming a major social problem. In the past, street children were often those whose families had been split up by war. Bereft of support they were driven to life on the street in order to survive. Times, however, have changed and now the majority of children on the streets have families.7

6 ibid.

7 UNICEF, The situation of women and children in Mozambique, Maputo, 1996, p. 7.

Nor is the problem confined to Mozambique. According to a report in the Mozambican newspaper Notas, hundreds of Mozambican children of both sexes continue to wander through the streets of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.1 During the day the children, most between 12 and 17 from the nearby provinces of Manica, Sofala and Tete, do light work, and then at night become prostitutes or rent boys or use drugs. When questioned, most of the children claim that they were among the 240,000 refugees in Mozambique, but that after returning there was “nothing to do in Mozambique” - no money for studies and no chance of work. They could make 100,000 meticals (approximately US$8) a day in Harare.2

1 JordMuvale (AIM), “Crian mobicanas vagueiam nas ruas de Harare”, in Notas, 16 Dec. 1996, p. 7.

2 ibid.

The problems faced by street children include unemployment, lack of access to education and health care, and a shortage of food and clothing. They are at obvious and substantial risk of physical and sexual abuse, and are likely to engage in petty theft in order to survive. The children are also an extremely vulnerable workforce. As they are working illegally, they have no legal recourse and are easy to exploit. Street children are frequently arrested by police in “cleaning” operations.3 The children themselves, while realizing that some activities are not appropriate for their age, prefer to work than to wander through the streets doing nothing.4

3 Discussion with Jean-Claude Legrand, Chief CEDC and Emergency Sections, UNICEF Maputo, 13 Dec. 1996.

4 Laforte, op. cit., p. 158.

A number of programmes, governmental and non-governmental, exist to assist street children and youth. UNICEF, for example, working through a network of NGOs, aims to provide shelter, health care, basic education and skills training to 1,100 children, mainly in Maputo, Beira and Quelimane. The programme promotes family and community reunification, the provision of vocational training and open services in order to reintegrate and maintain as many children as possible in their original social environment. Thus, in 1996, UNICEF decided to cancel an agreement with one NGO that was not willing to follow established government policy to promote contacts between the children and their community of origin.5

5 UNICEF, The expansion of CEDC Services/Peace Education Project, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 14.

Although most of the street children are boys, girls too continue to face a number of real and substantial threats to their survival and development, largely as a result of the war. For example, a World Vision International report on the effects of armed conflict on girls conducted for the United Nations Study on the impact of armed conflict on children found that the experience in Mozambique suggested that the disintegration or disruption of community life caused by the war posed a threat even to the “informal” education received by girls, since they were often denied the skills traditionally taught to them as a consequence of the entire community having to concentrate on mere survival.6

6 World Vision International, The effects of armed conflict on girls, a discussion paper prepared by World Vision for the UN Study on the impact of armed conflict on children, Monrovia and Geneva, May 1996, p. 17.

Culture also plays a significant role. As a report by ANPPCAN on Mozambican refugees has pointed out, gender equity is scarcely ingrained in the cultural psyche of Mozambican men. Women in general and girls in particular were to be “seen and not heard.”7 Despite the cultural obstacles to equality, as Teresinha da Silva pointed out, “culture is not static, it can change.” She felt that parents did want their children to go to school, to learn and claimed that the numbers of male and female school enrolments were similar, but the number of girls dropping out was much higher than the number of boys. She ascribed this to the fact that there were few women teachers, and therefore no models for the girls and their parents, especially in rural villages and communities. In addition, male teachers frequently made the girl pupils pregnant - scarcely an incentive to ensure better attendance. She also felt that the curriculum was inappropriate, not giving girls the practical skills they needed. It was therefore necessary to revise the training of teachers and the school curriculum.

7 W. Njuguna et al., op. cit., p. vi.

Box 2

Santa Maria College of Sisters, Macheva (Maputo province)

In 1991, the Santa Maria College of Sisters began receiving children affected by the war. The Government was bringing in children from the countryside, many of whom became street children. The numbers of children grew so rapidly that the Sisters decided to build a centre to help them. The College now has between 180 and 200 children and youth aged between 7 and 22. Its work is supported by a Spanish NGO, the European Union, NORAD, Terre des Hommes Lausanne, and the Government of France.

Although many children come to the centre for food, the sisters believe that it is important to provide education to the children and not just food. The curriculum follows that of the Ministry of Education, but with the addition of moral and civic education to teach the children “respect for other people and nature”. General studies are taught so as to make the children aware of national and international events. The children are also provided with psychological and medical assistance when it is needed. The Sisters have been specially trained for this.

The Sisters believe it important to keep the children busy with activities, so opportunities are provided for dance, music, physical education, manual work, basket making, shoemaking, sewing and bookbinding. There are five Mozambican teachers at the school and five “masters” for vocational training. An agricultural project has begun, involving also the raising of chickens. The College is attempting to become self-sufficient in food.

In 1995, 17 children were reunited with their families. Most come from extremely poor backgrounds. Now the oldest of the children still at the college are 22 and government permission has been granted for houses to be built for them. The children themselves will participate in the construction work, which is being supported by an NGO.

A number of experts have stressed the need to strengthen vocational training programmes for girls.1 To support girl's education, UNICEF has persuaded the Government to agree to a project specifically for girls. In addition, UNICEF has supported a project to train trainers (primary-school teachers) and to produce a basic training manual on gender issues.2 Ms. da Silva, however, thought it preferable to support the entire family and not to create special programmes for girls.

1 The Head of the Women's Department of the RENAMO Party, for instance, emphasized the importance of more training - and not just in sewing - but pointed out that the training should be directly linked to employment or income-generating activities. Discussion with Domencos Mengina Assuza, Head of the Department of Youth, Culture and Sport, RENAMO Party, 13 Dec. 1996.

2 UNICEF, Mozambique situation update: November 1995-January 1996, p. 11.

As a direct and indirect result of the conflict in Mozambique, many youths have been physically or mentally disabled. According to one research team, for example:

War, combined with poverty and recurrent drought, has increased the incidence of impairment, leading to disability in children in Mozambique. Prevalence, however, is unlikely to have increased, because disabled children, as one of society's most vulnerable groups, have had little chance of survival in the harsh conditions arising from the war. Lack of treatment, starvation and simply not being able to flee in the face of an attack are some of the reasons for disabled children not surviving. Scarce resources and negligible specialist facilities mean that the majority of disabled children have no access to adequate health care or educational facilities.3

3 S. Miles and E. Medi, “Disabled children in post-war Mozambique: Developing community-based support”, in Disasters, Vol. 18, No. 3 (1994), p. 284.

Children and youth may be physically and mentally disabled as a direct result of the fighting (e.g. bullet wounds, shrapnel from bombs or artillery shells, or injuries from land mines or unexploded ordnance, leading to temporary or permanent disability) or torture and abuse committed by warring parties, or as an indirect result of the lack of available health care caused by the destruction or theft of medical facilities and supplies, or they may be born with physical or mental disabilities, perhaps exacerbated by the social dislocation engendered by armed conflict.

Miles and Medi challenge the oft-held assumption that children with disabilities are often neglected or not fed, especially in conflict situations or with parents with no access to appropriate advice about how to care for children with severe disabilities. Although such abandonment or neglect may occur, oral testimony collected from disabled Mozambican refugees while in refugee camps in Swaziland revealed that they had been carried to safety over extremely long distances by relatives.1

1 ibid., pp. 285-6.

UNICEF is working with ADEMO (Associa des Deficientes Mobicanos), Handicap International, the Ministry of Social Welfare (Accion Sociale), the Provincial Department of Social Welfare in Zambezia and Sofala provinces and, more recently, the international NGO, POWER (Prosthetic & Orthotic Worldwide Education and Relief). ADEMO, for instance, has organized country-wide sports activities for children with disabilities as a means of integrating these children into the regular school system. This activity culminated in provincial sports festivals where children with disabilities demonstrated their capacity to challenge these handicaps.2

2 UNICEF, The expansion of CEDC Services/Peace Education Project, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 14.

In Quelimane (Zambezia), the Sangariveira Social Centre was rehabilitated in 1993 and 1994 and vocational training began in 1995. Activities included skills training courses in tailoring, carpentry and bakery for 60 street children and children with disabilities. Twenty-five of the children are deaf and the staff of the centre are being gradually trained in sign language. In 1996, the curriculum was strengthened, with the addition of literacy courses.3 Physical rehabilitation of land-mine victims is provided through POWER, which has taken over the management of the limb-fitting centres in Maputo and Beira and the provincial hospitals in Quelimane and Nampula formerly run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. ADEMO is helping to identify those in need of rehabilitation, and UNICEF is funding the cost of providing artificial limbs to 450 children and women.

3 ibid.

In addition to specific categories of war-affected youth, there are inevitably a great many children and young persons who have been deprived of basic education for many years as an indirect consequence of the conflict. There remains an acute shortage of schools and trained teachers in Mozambique. For most children, school ends at the fifth grade. Thousands of youth are now too old to integrate into primary education and thus remain marginalized and unemployed.4 Children who have not started education by the age of 11 are too old to do so, according to rules laid down by the Ministry of Education.5 This increases the need for vocational training with a strong educational component.

4 ibid., p. 17.

5 Discussion with Jean-Claude Legrand, Chief of CEDC and Emergency Sections, UNICEF Maputo, 13 Dec. 1996.

In line with a recommendation that more emphasis be put on vocational training after primary education, UNICEF is currently supporting training and literacy courses for 3,100 youths, including 1,800 girls.6 Despite the relatively high cost of good vocational training, Jean-Claude Legrand, the head of UNICEF's CEDC section did not see any contradiction between quality and quantity. He felt that orphanages should not develop their own weak projects but should combine with specialists and he commended the Salesian boarding school at San Jose as one providing excellent vocational training.

6 ibid.

Box 3

Salesian boarding school at San Jose (Maputo province)

The Salesian school at San Jose is a boarding school for 80 boys aged 11-14 offering high-quality education and professional training in electrical engineering, carpentry and metalworking and including an excellent theatre for child and youth productions. The courses are running for three years and include also civic education. In 1996, the school selected the 50 poorest of 150 applicants. The children are not street children but are victims of the war. They are “orphans” living with other relatives or those who their parents cannot look after. The boys visit their families every two weeks. The Brothers believe that they are helping to solve future problems rather than present ones. They are already making contacts with companies in Maputo City in order to place the children when they have completed their training.