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close this bookThe Reintegration of War-Affected Youth: The Experience of Mozambique (International Labour Organization, 1997, 52 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentExecutive Summary
View the document1. Introduction
close this folder2. Background: The impact of armed conflict on youth in Mozambique
View the document2.1. The long years of war
View the document2.2. The legacy of the conflict
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
close this folder3.4. Selected examples of mainstream vocational training courses
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View the document3.4.1. GPE/GTZ Micro-Enterprise Promotion Project in Mozambique
View the document3.4.2. Agricultural Training Centre (Centro da Formação Agrario)
View the document3.4.3. Ntwanano project (Polana Caniço)
close this folder4. Incorporating life skills into vocational skills training
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View the document4.1. Literacy and numeracy
View the document4.2. Basic management skills
View the document4.3. Civic education
View the document4.4. Peace education
View the document4.5. Knowledge of human rights and labour standards
View the document4.6. HIV/AIDS awareness
View the document4.7. Psychosocial assistance
View the document4.8. Drug and alcohol abuse
View the document4.9. Mine awareness
close this folder5. Recommendations
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close this folder5.1. Planning technical and life (basic) skills training as well as employment creation programmes
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View the document5.1.1. Needs assessment
View the document5.1.2. Mainstreaming of “vulnerable” groups
close this folder5.2. Implementation of skills training programmes for war-affected youth
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View the document5.2.1. Selection of beneficiaries
View the document5.2.2. Selection and training of trainers
View the document5.2.3. Content of courses
View the document5.2.4. Follow-up
View the document5.3. Monitoring and evaluation
View the document5.4. Policy considerations
View the documentBibliography
View the documentAnnex 1. Selected list of organizations providing vocational training to youth in Mozambique

2.1. The long years of war

Shortly after independence was achieved in 1975, Mozambicans became embroiled in a savage internal struggle between the government of FRELIMO1 and the armed opposition group of RENAMO.2 The struggle was to last 16 years and to cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Against this backdrop of savagery, millions of children and youth have grown up in Mozambique knowing little else but the horrors of war. For Mozambican youth living - and dying - in the midst of armed conflict, the choices were clear: fight; flee; or risk life, limb and liberty trying to eke out a meagre existence amid the minefields and madness.

1 Frente de Liberta de Mozambique.

2 Resisten Nacional de Mozambique.

Thousands of youth, including an unknown number of young women, joined the armed forces of government or opposition and many became active participants in the conflict. Some did so willingly, while others were pressed into service, sometimes at the barrel of a gun. It has been reported that in some instances, children were abducted and then forced to kill or torture friends or even family to ensure that their links with the community were completely broken.

Once enrolled, life in the army tended to be harsh: discipline was frequently merciless, punishment severe. Thus, in addition to the threat of death or injury fighting in the front line, recruits ran the frequent risk of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their own side. In the bitterness of the struggle for supremacy, appalling atrocities were committed against civilians and other soldiers alike. The impact of abuses of the fundamental norms of humanity will take decades to expunge from the collective psyche of all Mozambicans, both young and old. Moreover, a generation of young soldiers were deprived of access to basic education and health care.

As the war continued and hopes of peace withered with the untended crops, millions of Mozambicans fled into neighbouring Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As refugees, daily life was difficult, but not impossible. Adequate schooling and health care was provided through the auspices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and, in addition to Portuguese, many young Mozambican refugees were able to learn English in their countries of asylum. But being cut off from their homes and cultural heritages and frequently dependent on external aid, the young tended to be deprived of instruction in the life and work skills that are traditionally passed down from their parents. Girls became heads of households at increasingly younger ages and, charged with the responsibility of bringing up even younger siblings, themselves lost the chance of receiving an education.

Especially vulnerable were the internally displaced in Mozambique, bereft of the entitlement to protection and care accorded to refugees under international law, and without the benefit of an international agency mandated specifically to watch over their rights and interests. Inadequate food security; vulnerability to attack, forced recruitment, physical and sexual abuse and the dangers of land mines; and social and economic instability were the frequent realities for the millions of children and youth displaced within Mozambique. As is seen below, their situation in post-conflict Mozambique remains precarious.

The impact of armed conflict on Mozambican social infrastructure was equally dramatic. War destroyed more than 40 per cent of Mozambique's health centres between 1982 and 1986 and left two-thirds of the country's 2 million primary school age children without classrooms.3

3 UNICEF, State of the world's children 1996, Oxford, Oxford University Press, Dec. 1995.

Between 1980 and 1988, the lack of food, safe drinking water and adequate health care in war zones contributed to an estimated 490,000 child deaths in Mozambique.1

1 ibid.