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Dealing with the past: The youth and post-war recovery in southern Sudan

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Abstract:

The role of young people in times of conflict and their potential within postconflict recovery are phenomenal. If efforts are not made to reintegrate the youth and access their potential in Southern Sudan, post-conflict recovery will have limited success. Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes are the primary instruments that external actors can apply to induce spoilers of peace into the peace process or to reduce their threat to microlevel dynamism and to promote creative life strategies of war-affected individuals who are primary stake-holders in the nation-building process. By providing for the educational, vocational and other social needs of young ex-combatants and enabling them to gain skills and competences that facilitate their economic and social integration, the youths may be brought to a point where they find the alternative of returning to combat unattractive. In meeting the needs of the youths, it is important not to homogenise them as either security threats or passive victims needing special sympathy, but as complex and heterogeneous individuals with multiple skills, aspirations and limitations of their own. Effective DDR programming must factor in the wartime history of individuals. Dealing with the past strategies in southern Sudan should acknowledge and build on the youths’ potential as the starting point.

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