Migule A Máusse & Daniel Nina

Edited by Elizabeth Bennet





Part I: The Social Reintegration of the Child Involvedin the Armed Conflict in Mozambique


A Short History of the War in Mozambique

Social-Economic Consequences of the War in Mozambique

The Child and the War

The Psycho-Social Impact of the War on Children

The Social Reintegration of Children Involved in the Armed Conflict

The Reaction of the State: Policies, Strategies and Programmes

Other Special Programmes

Participation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Associations

Participation of the Communities Using Traditional Mechanisms

Continuation of Activities During Times of Peace

Some Problems of the Present Moment




Part II: Children Involved in South Africa¹s Wars: After Soweto 1976


Normative Definitions

International and Domestic Legal Conventions and Legislations

Context Analysis

Recruitment Methods

The Identity of the Struggle

Psychological and Social Damage

Role of Civil Society and the State

Demobilisation, Reintegration and Resocialisation Mechanisms in a

Post-apartheid Society




Author biographies




ABC Atendimento Baseado na Comunidade (Community Based Support)

ACNUR Alto Comissário das Nações Unidas para os Refugiados (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)

ADPP Associação de Desenvolvimento do Povo para Povo (Association for Development of People by the People)

AGP Acordo Geral de Paz (General Peace Accord)

AMETRAMO Associação de Médicos Tradicionais de Moçambique (Association of Mozambican Traditional Healers)

AMOSAPU Associação Moçambicana de Saúde Pública (Mozambican Association for Public Health)

CVM Cruz Vermelha de Moçambique (Mozambican Red Cross)

COPA-CSD Comissão Multidisciplinar de Apoio e Protecção à Criança em Situação Difícil

(Commission for Support and Protection of the Child in a Difficult Situation)

DEA Direcção de Estudos e Avaliação do MICAS (Directorate for Studies and Evaluations of MICAS)

DPCCN Departamento de Prevenção e Combate às Calamidades Naturais

(Department for the Prevention and Combat of Natural Calamities)

FADM Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (Mozambican Defence Force)

FRELIMO Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (Liberation Front of Mozambique)

IPM Instituto de Psicotraumatologia (Institute for Psychotrauma)

MICAS Ministério da Coordenação da Acção Social (Ministry for the Co-ordination of Social Welfare)

MINED Ministério da Educação (Ministry of Education)

MISAU Ministério da Saúde (Ministry of Health)

PLRF Programa de Localização e Reunificação Familiar (Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification)

PRES Programa de Restruturação Económica e Social (Programme for Economic and Social Restructuring)

RECRINA Reabilitação de Crianças em Nampula (Rehabilitation of Children in Nampula)

RENAMO Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Mozambican National Resistence)

SEAS Secretaria de Estado de Acção Social (State Secretary for Social Welfare)

SMO Serviço Militar Obrigatório (Compulsory Military Service)

UNICEF United Nations International Children and Emergency Fund

UNOMOZ United Nations Operation in Mozambique

"I come from a culture where, traditionally, children are seen as both our present and our future, so I have always believed it is our responsibility as adults to give children a future worth having" Graça Machel


We selected under-researched topics for our current series of monographs, trusting that they will help in defining mechanisms for stopping the practice of using children in and for war. We are grateful to Miguel A Maússe and Daniel Nina for their contribution to a finer understanding of the plight of child soldiers in South Africa. There is a  crying need to provide a deterrent to war crimes against children and to see international justice in action. To this end ACT is calling for the establishment of a specialised international tribunal on War Crimes Against Children as a matter of the gravest urgency.

ACT the Action Plan Project for Children in Armed Conflict forms part of the activities of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa. The mandate of the ISS is to enhance human security in Africa and ACT supports the quest to stop the use of children in armed conflict situations by undertaking applied research and making recommendations on this issue. The present practices and abuses pose a direct threat to the dignity of humankind, they contradict all principles and rights associated with international norms and make a mockery of the notion of basic human security. Unless the present situation is immediately redressed, generations of children will continue to be exposed to a culture of violence which neither offers alternatives for intellectual growth nor contributes to peace and nation-building processes. This ultimately robs children of their future and their humanity.

I wish to thank my colleagues at ISS, Virginia Gamba, Mark Malan and Richard Cornwell for their professional support and Janice Bergh for her care in the preparation of the manuscript.

Elizabeth Bennett Head, ACTion for Children in Armed Conflict


By Miguel A Mausse*

Maputo, October 5, 1998


I Introduction

This MONOGRAPH constitutes an analysis and systematic presentation of information and activities, carried out by both the governmental entities as well as the private sectors of society (non-governmental organisations, associations and the communities), aimed at the social (re) integration of children who were involved in the armed conflict which recently ended in Mozambique.

It is not our intention, in this presentation, to evaluate the relevancy or efficacy of these initiatives, nor to even attempt to criticise what was done or what is currently being done with regards to the reintegration of   the children involved in the armed conflict, but rather to present a description of some of those initiatives as a way of sharing the Mozambican experience with other countries which were involved or are still involved in armed conflicts.

We know that the initiatives carried out during and after the war in Mozambique, with regards to the reintegration of these children, were varied, multifaceted and integrated and represent the efforts of all those involved in giving back to the children the social space that is owed to them.

With regards to our theme in focus, during this descriptive analysis we opted to use the designation "children involved in the armed conflict", as we believe this term is more generic and incorporates all children involved in the conflict, both directly and indirectly, either as soldiers, participating in spying missions or carrying war equipment; or having been kidnapped, tortured or a witness to barbaric acts. This term is more encompassing and renders justice to what was in fact the reality of the child during this recent period of Mozambican history.

Some authors prefer to use the term "children affected by the war" to designate: "all the children who suffered directly from the effects of the war, through attacks, injury, kidnapping, death of family members, separation, involvement in military activities, psychological trauma etc, caused by the war, or indirectly by having been displaced, denied access to education, forced to hunger and malnutrition, or because they were denied access to basic health care, living under extreme situations, inadequate to their development"1.

It is this group that we shall focus on during our address, although with the designation "children involved in the armed conflict," the meaning of which differs slightly, indicating a wider group, our analysis will try to identify different forms of social reintegration of this group of children. For a better understanding of the problems faced by these children and in act, in order to show their need for special care and intervention, we present a description highlighting the origins and the characteristics of the war in Mozambique, which was a war of destabilisation.

The socio-economic impact of the war on the country and the psycho-social impact of the war on the children, justify the reasons for the involvement of all the active structures of society, with the objective of reinstating hope in the lives of those children who suffered with the war; they further justify the need for the involvement of the government, civilian structures, the family and the community, working towards guaranteeing a better integration of these children.

2 A Short History of the War in Mozambique

Mozambique was involved in armed conflict for 30 years. This started in 1964 with the struggle for national liberation against Portuguese colonialism led by FRELIMO and which lasted 10 years (1964 to 1974). After this war, the country became involved in another armed conflict during the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe (1975-1980) against the colonial Rhodesian government. More recently, the country confronted another war of destabilisation initiated by RENAMO (National Mozambican Resistance), supported by the Rhodesian and South African governments. Altogether these wars were equivalent to military operations which affected communities and individuals, mainly women and children, for more than one generation.

The effects of the last war are the object of this analysis, without however trying to minimise the effects of the other two wars. As this last armed conflict came to an end only recently, its physical and psychological effects are still felt very strongly, despite the fact that a process of reconciliation is underway and is being conducted successfully. This last war, which lasted 16 years, emerges during its first phase as a war of retaliation by the Rhodesian regime due to the support that the Mozambican Government was providing to the struggle for the liberation of the Zimbabwean people2. Later, with independence and the ultimate creation of Zimbabwe, the aid and support to Renamo were transferred to South Africa.

The first armed incursions against the Mozambican territory were initiated in 1976 in Manica and Sofala as well as to the north of Gaza, in provinces which border the present Zimbabwe3. From 1980, when the control of the movement is transferred to South Africa due to Zimbabwe having become independent, the war expanded to the north through Malawi and to the south through South Africa.

This expansion was in a way facilitated from inside the country, due to internal reasons, mainly those related to a social unhappiness which worsened throughout the rural areas, especially with the implementation of a policy for the creation of communal villages4. Roesch states that "after 1980 Frelimo started using increasingly coercive measures to force the rural communities to live in communal villages"5.

`The policy of communal villages promoted by the government often came into open conflict with the interests of the rural populations6. The compulsory village structures place the outsiders to the new area of settlement in a very vulnerable position, and many even lost their food reserves during the resettlement, being forced to abandon the fields which had already been prepared for crops.

Furthermore the government also came into direct conflict with the Régulos, an authority acknowledged by many of the rural people within the local government structure7. All this created a general dissatisfaction among the rural communities and the traditional authorities, which resulted in some of them adhering to the Renamo movement. The deterioration of living conditions during the period between 1982 and 1984, as well as the drought which affected the country and brought about general hunger in many areas, contributed to a worsening of the situation8.

Added to these aspects, there were others which would favour adhesion to Renamo and thus allow the expansion of the war throughout the country. Within this context, Taju speaks about "illegalities, abuse of power, unbalanced social economic development between the north and the south"9.

At the end of 1982, "Renamo infiltrates hundreds of elements of its movement from South Africa, through Maputo, to create destruction in the south and to advance to the north with the aim of isolating the capital from the rest of the country"10. As a result of that strategy, Renamo activities seriously started affecting the province of Gaza between 1983 and 1987. During this period, Renamo established bases in this province, with the aim of carrying out armed incursions against the communal villages11.

After the crisis of 1986 which culminated with the death of the first president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, preceded by an atmosphere of tension and accusations between the governments of Maputo and Pretoria, the war intensified and gained another characteristic. Renamo infiltrated more men through Malawi and/or South Africa and started concentrating its attacks on small towns and suburban areas. In 1987, for example, an army of about 12 000 men, invaded the province of Zambézia from Malawi, with the support of South Africa. This group had as its objective "to capture the majority of the main towns in the various districts of Zambézia, in the north-eastern part of Tete, and northern Manica and Sofala"12.

From 1992 Renamo intensifies its attacks on the towns and cities all over the country. It is during this spate of attacks that the massacres of Homoíne, Manjacaze, Maluana and Taninga (all in the south of the country) are registered. These were renowned for the ferocity with which they were perpetrated and for the high number of deaths of the defenceless, among them many women and children13.

The war tired both sides, with the people as the major loser. For this and other reasons, at the end of the 1980s, a series of contacts and talks was initiated between the belligerent parties, with the support of religious groups, African countries and finally the Community of Saint EgÌdio in Italy, and in October 1992, the General Peace Accord was signed in Rome, between the government and Renamo. The first multiparty elections in Mozambique take place in 1994, and a new era begins in the history of the country and of our people - the Second Republic.

2.1 Social-Economic Consequences of the War in Mozambique

The Mozambican war, which ended in 1992, had a destabilising character, illustrated by the massacres and kidnapping of civilians and by the destruction of the social and economic infrastructures, namely factories, plantations, social structures, bridges, means of transport, energy conductors and others14. As a result of this war, more than a million people were killed and 4,5 million were dislocated internally or sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Swaziland and South Africa. Approximately 400 000 of these were children15.

The intensification of the war in the rural areas forced the populations to seek refuge in the cities. Here, these populations were confronted with problems of unemployment and lack of land to cultivate, thus becoming more dependent on food aid from overseas or then precariously subsisting on informal sector activities.

A study carried out in 1994 in the city of Maputo by Little and Baptista Lundin, indicates that the majority of the family aggregates which had arrived in Maputo city during the previous 10 years, had become involved in small informal businesses on the street corners, locally known as "dumba nengue", and in other small types of business such as the sale of fresh produce in the markets of Maputo city16. And for the first time in our time, commercial activities substituted agricultural activities.

This situation worsened with the implementation of the Programme for Economic Rehabilitation in 1987, at a time when the war was spreading throughout the whole country17. United Nations data indicate that during the period between 1985 and 1990, between 50% and 60% of the Mozambican population lived in extreme poverty, between 35% and 45% of these in the urban and peri-urban areas and 70% in the rural areas18.

The armed conflict, together with the worst drought in years, affected the vast majority of the population, especially in the rural areas. As a result, families were separated by the dislocations from their areas of origin, through emigration to foreign countries or by death.

"At the end of 1988, according to calculations done by the Joint Verification Commission, constituted by representatives of the Mozambican Government, of the United Nations and of the various donors, there were approximately 5,6 million Mozambicans affected, dislocated or living as refugees, which is equivalent to about one million families, the majority of which in the rural areas. This means that practically 1/3 of the Mozambican population has been affected by the war, in one way or another"19.

The war was of such a nature that the rural communities paid a very high price, having to support the vast majority of the two armies20 with their crop productions. With regards to the children, the constant dislocations and deaths resulted in orphaned children, traumatised and abandoned in the zones of war, and children separated from their families. Family dislocations "have as an immediate consequence the loss of family links as well as the loss of relationships and of coherence within the community, which in times of crises are fundamental in the process of inter-help"21.

Therefore, the effects of the war, which are various and shall continue to be felt for a long time, have wide implications in the economy of the country, of the region and of society in general. The destruction of the infrastructures capable of dinamising the national economy, and the sabotage of transport and communication links, of energy conductors, of the social infrastructures, namely schools, hospitals, shopping centres, towns and cities, negatively impacted on the development of an economy capable of meeting the needs of the country and of the region22. The destruction of the economic and social infrastructures placed millions of people in a state of total dependency. The destruction of the health assistance structures will prevent the provision of basic medical and health assistance23. This will result in high rates of child mortality calculated between 325-375 for every 1 000 children per year24. The destruction of the schools will aggravate the illiteracy problem in the country. With the war, a total of 2 655 primary schools, 22 high schools and 36 boarding schools situated in the rural areas, were destroyed or forced to close down, thus preventing around 600 000 children in those areas from having access to education25.

Therefore, even though there are no official or realistic numbers with regards to the children involved in the armed conflict, given the nature of the war everything indicates that there was a wide involvement of children in military acts.

The war of destabilisation in the country meant that the major part of the state budget was channelled towards costing the expenses of the war, which should have been channelled instead towards areas of economic and social development. Thus, it also contributed to the reduction of the total value of exports. As an example, the total value of Mozambican exports in 1986 was only 28% of the total value in 1981. Furthermore, the percentage of exports in relation to imports decreased from 35 in 1981 to 14 in 198626.

3 The Child and the War

The armed conflict in Mozambique was characterised by its devastating effect on children. The number of children who died as a direct result of armed actions is and shall remain unknown. In the meantime, available data indicates that around 45% of the victims of the war (approximately 1 million deaths) were children under 15 years of age.27 The majority of the civilians who lived in areas affected by the war were exposed to violence, suffered brutality and other traumatic experiences, and a vast number of children witnessed the death of people. Among the surviving children, UNICEF estimates that about 250 000 were orphaned or separated from their families, as a consequence of the war. In a situation of total vulnerability, many Mozambican children became victims and instruments of acts of war. Young children were forced to fight, and became targets and preferred victims of kidnapping, torture, abuse, rape and forced labour, in war zones as well as in areas of dislocated populations, and even in refugee camps.

The stories gathered by the author in Homoíne, in the province of Inhambane, which we quote herewith, are a better illustration of this situation.

However, they already show a situation of some stability, with the children living with substitute families.28 "Maria Alberto is a 13 year old girl living in the house of Sama Cossa (substitute family) in the suburb 7 de Setembro. Before, she lived in the Renamo base to where she was taken after having been kidnapped with her mother in Chirwala, her place of birth (...). She was separated from her parents during the kidnapping and never heard from them again. Maria escaped death, when the Renamo base where she was living was attacked by the Frelimo soldiers. The Frelimo soldiers took her to their army camp of Benhame. From here she was taken to Soma¹s house by Soma¹s husband who was a commander at that army base. (...) She does not go to school because she is too old to attend grade 1. Maria dreams of one day living with her parents again."

"Laura Alfeu is a 10 year old girl, who, for the last five years, has been living with Suzete Nhelete (substitute family) in the suburb Dzucuana, in Manhica, district of Homoíne, and attends grade 2. Laura does not remember her first childhood days, she only remembers that she used to live with Renamo soldiers in a base, where she was taken together with her family, parents and brothers and sisters. Laura knows that her father was killed during the walk to the camp and she does not know of the whereabouts of her brothers and sisters. (...) Like the other children, Laura would like to live again with her family one day".

"Tereza Sopa is 11 years old and currently lives with Elisa Samsson, a substitute family in Búfalo. She does not study because there are no schools where she lives. She does not know where she used to live before she was kidnapped. She was separated from her parents after she was kidnapped together with her family. On the way, her parents were told to go back and she was taken to the base at Vilanculos. From Vilanculos she was taken to Mahocuane and from there to Inharime from where she was taken to the base at Zavala, before being returned to the base of Mahocuane. She managed to escape one day when she was sent to fetch coconut at the village (...).

"Marcos Matsinhe is a 10 year old boy. He attends grade 1 and lives with Angelina Sabão in the communal village of Benhane. Before that he used to live in a Renamo base where he was taken after having been kidnapped in Jangamo. He managed to escape and reach the "party" (Frelimo). It was here that Angelina found him and asked if he could go and live with her. ... He says that he does nothing at home, except help in the vegetable garden and fetch water from the well. Marcos dreams of one day returning to his parents".

"Dhindassani é is a 12 year old girl who for the last four years has been living with Beti Munguambe in the communal village of Benhane. She does not study because she does not have the money to enrol and to buy books. Before she used to live with her parents in Matsinhe, from whom she was separated when she was kidnapped by Renamo soldiers one day when her parents were not at home. After being freed, she was later taken to the army base of Benhane, where Beti fetched her. She feels good and likes living with Beti, and has not had any problems. Dhindassani knows that her parents are alive and thinks she could recognise her house if someone would take her there one day. At Beti¹s house she usually sweeps the house and helps with the vegetable garden, carrying water and cooking. Her dream is to grow up and have her own home."

"Beto and Sarita Artur are brother and sister, respectively 11 and nine years of age, and live with Franscisco António in the suburb Malonguela. Beto attends grade 1 and Sarita grade 2. They were kidnapped by Renamo soldiers in Pembe, and were later "recovered" by Frelimo soldiers who took them to the mission. The story of how they came to live with their substitute family is different from the others: Francisco went to the social work services of the area and asked to take Sarita to live with his family, for which he got permission. A few days later, the social worker of the district contacted him and asked him also to take Sarita¹s brother, because he cried for his sister all the time. Francisco accepted and also took Beto to live with him. Sometime later, the mother of the children turned up. After contacting her children and the substitute family she asked the family to keep her children as she did not have adequate conditions to bring them up, besides the fact that there were no schools where she lived. Francisco and his wife accepted and from that time the two families have kept contact, thus having established family links.

Today, Sarita and Beto live well, and do not think of going back to live with their mother: Œbecause we are scared of the bandits and we want to study¹. Sarita and Beto do the same things that other children of similar age do in the area ‹ they sweep the house and the yard, go and fetch water and sometimes Sarita washes the dishes. She dreams of becoming a teacher one day and Beto would like to have a bicycle to get to school every day, as the school is very far from the house (approximately eight kms)29.

These examples illustrate the situation to which the majority of the children were submitted during the war, which as we have seen was characterised by separations, loss of parents and/or family members through death, dislocation from their areas of origin etc. Many do not even remember everything that happened during the kidnapping and the period which they spent with the soldiers, they do not know the whereabouts of their family members and do not even know how old they are exactly. It must be pointed out that a stay in a military base meant to participate in combat, to carry the flag of war and for the girls, to foresee to the domestic tasks (washing, cooking), inclusively having to act as "wives" to the soldiers and commanders, often to more than one at the same time.

Today the dreams of these children, who are out of this nightmare, vary, but one can notice in almost all of them a common feeling: firstly the existence of hope, and secondly the search for a better life and dream of one day being reunited with their families.

In Mozambique the number of children involved in the armed conflict is not know. However, data supplied by the technical unit of UNOMOZ indicates that 27% (about 25 498) of the demobilised soldiers were at the time younger than 18 years30. It is noticeable that of these numbers, about 16 553 belonged to the governmental army, while 8 945 belonged to Renamo.31

It must be mentioned that, shortly after the General Peace Accord in October 1992, once the control at the old bases was relaxed, many of the children ran way from there. They either returned on their own to their areas of origin or were reunited by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), by the organisation Save the Children, or through the various initiatives of the community in collaboration with the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification, about which we will talk more in detail later on.

When finally Renamo authorised full access to its old bases in June 1994, more than 2 000 children were registered, 850 of whom were later reunited in co-ordinated operations carried out by UNOMOZ.

The lack of official recognition of these youngsters as soldiers was a mistake made at the time, the implications of which were felt immediately and with long term repercussions. Due to the non-existence of a structured programme to meet the needs, the handling of these youngsters was not done in a uniform way and depended on the circumstances and the opportunities created by the international organisations which had surfaced in the meantime due to the now possible access to the war zones, which had previously been denied.

Some of these children managed to have access to the demobilisation centres and were formally demobilised, others benefited from the services for family reunification, and others still, simply returned to their areas of origin through their own means and without any type of assistance.32 It must be mentioned that the law regarding the compulsory military service recently approved by the Assembly of the Republic, does not mention how to handle these child ex-soldiers who during the war fought alongside the government or Renamo33. No mention is made whether they should be receive a special treatment or whether they should be treated as the rest of the youngsters who never did military service. During the debate on this law, no party (neither Frelimo nor Renamo, which were those responsible for recruiting minors for their armies during the war), defended a special statute for these youngsters who initiated and completed a military activity while still children.

There is currently a campaign against the future incorporation of these children in the military service, which already had its first intake in 1998 and which should effectively be in place as from 1999. With regards to this issue, one of the newspapers of Maputo city, quoting the national director for human resources of the Ministry of National Defence, states that in legal terms the "child soldiers" must be recruited to complete the compulsory military services, because their exclusion, for having participated in the last war, is not foreseen in the law. However, the possibility exists for these cases to be analysed during the execution of the recruiting programme.34 In reply and as a comment to those statements, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Mozambican Armed Forces, Mateus Ngonhamo, stated that there is no risk of the child ex-soldiers who during the war fought on the side of Renamo, being called up again into the army. Ngonhamo, who during the last war belonged to the Renamo ranks, said that the children who belonged to Renamo are protected because they hold a demobilisation card. However, he admitted that if there are child-soldiers who were not demobilised, it can only be those who fought on the side of the government, as those in Renamo were all demobilised.

These declarations raise some doubts, because according to the demobilisation process, all soldiers younger than 18 years were not demobilised, due the fact that they were not within the age legally established for military service. This means that officially no children were demobilised35. Therefore, at least in legal terms, neither the children who belonged to Renamo, nor those on the side of the government, are exempt from compulsory military service.

These child ex-soldiers usually developed social and psychological problems, directly associated to the experiences to which they were submitted. Problems included nightmares, sadness, depression, aggressiveness, isolation, lack of trust in adults etc. And it would not be recommended for them to participate in activities which might make them remember situations which should not be relived, reviving a difficult past in their lives and due to which they are still traumatised. But the law for compulsory military service demands equal treatment for all, and only the future will show which route should be taken.

3.1 The Psycho-Social Impact of the War on Children In any human society, children are the most vulnerable members in times of social crises and natural disasters, given their natural incapacity for self-defence. This vulnerability is aggravated in situations of armed conflict characterised by external violence to the communities in which they live or are used to living.

During wars, children are subject to witnessing or participating in acts of violence, thus becoming victims of direct and indirect consequences which the war brings about in a society. The following report illustrates the reality of kidnapped youngsters and men.

"Kidnapped boys and men were "trained" through a brutal process of deprivation, spanking, threats and subject to breaking all taboos, such as to eat human flesh, to kill a family member. This process presumably takes place to alienate the soldier from his past, making him totally dependent on Renamo."(Richman;1991:4).

The involvement of children in armed actions, kidnappings, constant escapes, disappearance of family members, deaths and torture, creates problems in the children which are recorded in their minds and which have serious effects for a very long period of time. The actions herein described bring about psychological, social and physical trauma in the children.

In a situation of war, the children live directly and indirectly in situations of tension, which can become traumatic for the children themselves. The fact that they witness the violent death of a family member or of a friend, will be traumatic, and the same is valid for situations where the children themselves are targets or are being personally threatened.

Children separated from their families during the war are subject to additional psychological risks, which can be aggravated by the occurrence of other adversities such being exposed to violence, death, abuse and hunger and the lack of better social integration.

According to Richman, in a report about the war: "we find many (children) still living in fear, sleeping in the bush by fear of attack, anxious about their security and that of their families and friends. Of the first 50 children with whom we talked, several had suffered attacks in the last 12 months ... and it seems that at least one year would be necessary to put back some sense of security, only for them to once again become victims of another attack. Half the victims had witnessed atrocities and assassinations and almost all had experienced separation and isolation.

Eleven had witnessed the death of a family member. In this group, a quarter had been markedly affected by its symptoms, and those who had been kidnapped or witnessed the death of family members were the most  disturbed" (Richman;1991:7)

In Mozambique the cycle of violence was experienced by thousands of children, and separation and loss of family members are and were the biggest trauma and obstacle to the psycho-social recovery, even in the case of children who later benefited from the best types of assistance36.

Besides the effects of the war which directly affected the children, the war also destroys social services infrastructures and thus worsened an already difficult situation. In Mozambique, during the 16 years of this last war, the right to basic health care and education was denied to the vast majority of children living in war zones. As a consequence of the war, about half of the health and education facilities were destroyed or paralysed; nurses and teachers were killed, kidnapped or forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries or to move to more secure areas. This group of children who were denied the right to health and education, constitutes nowadays a large segment of the young population of the country, involving children in the age groups of between 10 and 18 years and youngsters of between 25 and 26 years of age, who were born or were of school age during the war.

A study carried out in Mozambique during the war, involving young boys and girls, indicated that:"77% of the children witnessed assassinations, usually in large numbers; 88% witnessed physical abuse and/or torture; 51% were physically abused or tortured; 63% witnessed kidnappings and sexual abuse; 64% were kidnapped from their families; 75% of the kidnapped children were forced to serve as carriers and 28% of the kidnapped children (all boys) were trained for combat".37 These numbers, often overlapping, indicate the difficult situations experienced by these children during that period.

Another study initiated by UNICEF in 1994, relates situations lived by a group of 40 children, who were later involved in a programme of assistance to children traumatised by the war, called the "Lhanguene Initiative". The study indicated that of the 40 children, seven saw their families being kidnapped, raped and killed; at least 20 witnessed deaths; 22 were trained by the Renamo soldiers, and many participated in acts of violence. This study also concluded that the majority of these children showed at the time signs of psychological behaviour disturbance, were introverts, had problems of concentration, suffered patterns of confused thinking, and some of them displayed highly aggressive behaviours.38 The experiences lived by the children during military acts, characterised by their direct or indirect involvement in fighting, separations and constant dislocations; the violent deaths of parents, family members or friends; the terror, attacks, life threats, bombardments etc, can provoke lack of self-esteem and lack of future perspectives. They constitute a tremendous source for aggression and violence a posteriori, if these children do not undergo a physical and psychological rehabilitation process combined with social reintegration, as is declared in the International Convention for the Rights of the Child approved by the United Nations on November 21, 1989.39

For example, during the war, the children became familiar, in various ways, with violent behaviour, either by observing direct family members, or people close to the family, preparing for combat and for sabotage. They might have heard everyday, insults against the enemy and against the problems and difficulties existent at the time and attributed to the mere existence of the enemy which therefore must be eradicated by any means possible, including the assassination of women and children.

During the war, the children, initially in a situation of direct or indirect conviviality with the military forces, breathe everyday a climate of hatred and violence, and learn techniques which later can be used in fighting and in combat, even in times of peace. Some of these children participated in acts of violence against the enemy, in many different ways, until they themselves killed as if they were trained soldiers.

The involvement of children in armed acts has been a characteristic of the last wars. During armed conflicts the children are trained to participate in military type activities, either voluntarily or by force, by both sides of the forces involved in the conflict. They might have direct contact with military equipment (cleaning, manufacturing, fixing, transporting or using arms); they might fill auxiliary positions such as radio-operators, spies or military guides; therefore their involvement or utilisation in military acts can occur in many different ways.

More than anyone else they suffer the direct effects of the war, through the attacks, injuries, kidnappings and death of family members; or indirect effects such as separation, being forced to move, being denied access to education, being subjected to hunger and malnutrition, being denied access to basic health care and living in extreme situations totally inadequate to their development.

In the Mozambican case these situations created serious psychological and social problems to the children, and only a treatment with the involvement of the various institutions, the communities, their real or substitute families, such as is currently being implemented, can contribute to erasing the past and try to give them a perspective of a more integrated future in society.

4 The Social Reintegration of Children Involved in the Armed Conflict In every society there are formal and informal institutions, either social or otherwise, which are called upon to intervene in moments of crises. These institutions have mechanisms for social control, so that in moments of crises they can intervene in the regularisation of their social systems. It is these institutions which use their resources and which identify solutions for the resolution of certain problems which affect the normal functioning of society and of its members.

In the case of Mozambique, these institutions were and are called upon to fulfil their role as regulators of more than one situation which arose in times of crises, created by the war which during many years affected the social texture. One of their roles was to deal with the problem of the reintegration of the children involved in the armed conflict.

In this context, state and government institutions, society in general, through the NGOs and associations of a humanitarian character, the families and the communities have taken various initiatives with a view to supporting the populations in an effort to reintegrate the children involved in the armed conflict in Mozambique.

One principle which we would like to clarify, is that during the present conditions in Mozambique when one is searching for solutions for the integration of the children involved in the armed conflict, it is not a matter of choosing between tradition and modernisation, as they coexist in the same space and at the same time; the most important is to try and find functional ways, in order to guarantee a better and more efficient integration of the children who were caught between having to serve the wills of those who held the power and the force of the arms in the military armies. Within these lines, we are of the opinion that one must use:

€ the traditional mechanisms for reintegration which the communities in general, and the families in particular, provide;

€ also the policies, strategies and programmes elaborated by the government with the participation of various structures of society.

All these must be understood as being a tool towards guaranteeing a better integration of the children involved in armed conflict; as being a means of reintegrating them and "bringing them back to the world of normal people".

4.1 The Reaction of the State: Policies, Strategies and Programmes

The official reaction of the state, through the Mozambican government, for the integration of children involved in armed conflict (orphaned, abandoned and traumatised children separated from their families etc) became official in 1985, still during the war, through the adoption of an official policy of support to the "child in a difficult situation".

This policy acknowledged that in the defence of the best interests of the children affected by or involved in armed conflicts, they should be assisted firstly in the reunification with their families within the shortest period of time, and if such was not possible they should be placed in substitute families, as a way of guaranteeing a better social integration. Should it be impossible to integrate these children in their families or in substitute families, they should be placed in children¹s homes and in accommodation centres.40 But this last option was only as a last resort.41

Initially this policy was implemented by the Ministry of Health through the National Directorate for Social Work (SEAS) and later by the State Secretary for Social Work (MICAS). Currently the policy is co-ordinated by the Ministry for Co-ordination of Social Work.

This strategy received a major impetus in 1988 with the creation of the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification (PLRF), which consisted of the co-ordination of efforts through the government (at the time lead by the Secretary of State for Social Work - SEAS), together with various social structures, through NGOs and associations of support to the children in difficult situations.

With regards to health, the Ministry of Health (MISAU) established strategies for special and specific assistance to children involved in the armed conflict, in an effort to facilitate their social integration.

Other national and international institutions created centres for nutritional rehabilitation in camps for the dislodged, hospitals, health centres and in areas affected by the war. Furthermore, special immunisation programmes were introduced, as well as child-mother health to combat epidemics.

Another initiative, which is not less important, was the programme for the supply of prostheses to those injured by the war (including children), while humanitarian organisations were encouraged to rehabilitate and to operate health centres in remote areas affected by the war, and health community brigades tried to reach families and communities isolated due to the war.

At the same time as the initiatives of social welfare and the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education (MINED) delineated policies and specific strategies for assistance to the children involved in the armed conflict.

Through its Department for Special Education, the Ministry of Education elaborated a national programme which had as its objective the training of primary school teachers to conduct screening of students and render special assistance to students psychologically traumatised, and further instituted procedures to prioritise and facilitate transfers of school for children who had returned from areas of war and from refugee camps.42

As a means of guaranteeing the right to education to dislodged children, the Ministry of Education established schools in the main centres for war dislodged, in refugee camps in neighbouring states, and in some cases provided high school facilities to these children together with special pedagogical assistance.

These policies, programmes and strategies found continuity at provincial and district levels through the creation of various commissions for support and protection to the "child in a difficult situation", involving staff of the Departments of Education, Health, Social Welfare, Department for the Prevention and Combat of Natural Disasters (DPCCN), Department of Planning and Finance and district administrations. Their main mission was to co-ordinate the initiatives and to ensure that these children would have priority in the distribution of the few available resources and emergency services.

In the neighbouring countries, especially in Zimbabwe and Malawi, and Mozambican refugee children benefited from a number of initiatives implemented by international organisations, in some cases operating on both sides of the border, sometimes with the support of the Mozambican state and of the countries granting asylum. The High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR) and other international organisations, ensured that the needs of this group were timeously met, planned and co-ordinated, thus avoiding the catastrophes so characteristic of large refugee movements, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. All in all, the programme for assistance to the refugees always considered the children as priority elements within the group of "vulnerable people", which guaranteed, within the available resources, some protection and special care geared towards a better social integration of this group.43

In relation to the programmes, we must point out some which had and continue to have an impact on the reintegration of the child with war experience in Mozambique, namely the "Lhanguene Initiative", which we can consider the first formally co-ordinated programme. Also the Programme for the Family Localisation and Reunification (PLRF), and the programme for support to the child/youth with war experience.

The "Lhanguene Initiative", which took place at the end of the 1980s, constituted the first pilot experience in the co-ordinated assistance to the non-accompanied child involved in the armed conflict.44 This programme was organised by the National Directorate for Social Welfare in co-ordination with the Department for Special Education of the Ministry of Education and received the technical and financial support of the Save the Children Fund (UK) and of the Save the Children Federation (US). The initiative brought together social workers, government officials and NGOs at all levels, in the search for solutions to stimulate the involvement of local volunteer groups, especially in dislodged communities, in the search for local solutions to the problems faced by the dislodged children involved in the armed conflict, as well as non-accompanied children.

During the first stage of the initiative, strategies for assistance to the non-accompanied children were delineated successfully.45 Furthermore, a training module was implemented, especially for members of the future district units for family localisation and reunification to be constituted by social workers, primary school teachers, nurses, members of the Mozambican Women Organisation and of the Mozambican Youth Organisation, members of the police, the Mozambican Red Cross and volunteers from other communities.

At the same time, and with the technical support of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psycho-pedagogists, a programme for the evaluation of the physical and mental health of the children lodged at the Lhanguene Centre was initiated, which was followed by treatment and psycho-social rehabilitation.

During the second stage, training was initiated, as well as the constitution of formal units for family localisation and reunification in four provinces.

While the processing of children was been done, the search was on for the families and the reunification would then take place. At the end of the "Lhanguene Initiative", more than 1 500 non-accompanied children had been registered, half of whom were physically reunited with their families. The centre was thus closed and the number of children sheltered at centres in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane and Sofala highly reduced.

The other high impact programme was the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification (PLRF), which constituted one of the forms of co-ordinated and organised assistance which affected more children and families during and after the war.

Co-ordinated centrally by social welfare (DNAS, SEAS, later MICAS), the programme had the technical and financial support of organisations linked to the alliance Save the Children (UK and US), and Redd Barna-Norway, which supplied various types of assistance from institutional capacity, to technical training and all necessary resources for the implementation of the programme. During the first phase, the programme succeeded in  organising a group of collaborators right up to a district level. The group comprised collaborators from various organisations and social structures, namely social welfare, education, health, Red Cross, Mozambican Women Organisation, Mozambican Youth Organisation, churches, the COPA-CSD etc.

However the best results of the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification were achieved once the efforts of the formal network were allied to the spontaneous initiatives of community groups looking for members of their families who had disappeared. The programme then reached the populations in the remote and inaccessible areas (including the Renamo bases) and drastically reduced the funds for family reunification. Once identified, members of these community groups would benefit from training guidance with regards to the basic procedures for the Programme for Family Localisation and Family Reunification, and would have access to its resources in order to facilitate the access to family reunification.46

In turn, each group would train other elements in more remote areas, thus creating a network constituted by individual members of the various communities which was spreading throughout very vast areas.

The Programme for the Family Localisation and Reunification also tries to identify abandoned and/or orphaned children, and to localise their immediate families or other family members for their ultimate reintegration, or then tries to integrate them into other families, followed by a phase of updating and support to both the families and children.

The support that the Ministry of Education offers the families through the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification, is partly material support, through the supply of goods such as food items, school material etc. Besides the material support, social welfare must also guarantee moral support to the integrated child and to the family which welcomed the child, a fact which has been implemented as far as possible.

In this regard, social workers from social welfare periodically visit the homes with the objective of keeping up to date on the integration process of the child and identifying any related problems. Therefore, in this process, the role of social welfare is mainly to guarantee material and moral support to the abandoned child and to the family into which the child was placed, and to mobilise and raise the awareness of the communities with regards to these problems.47

In April 1994, the estimated number of volunteers of the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification was around 8 000 people, who were responsible for the reunification of 12 000 children, excluding sporadic reuniting events which were never registered and which were done by community members (on average 50% of the reunification procedures were registered). During the period between 1989 and 1998, the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification reunited approximately 15 588 children of the 22 000 who were identified.48

4.1.1 Other Special Programmes

In some districts, such as Chibuto in the province of Gaza in the south of the country, a specific and special programme was implemented to assist child ex-soldiers who were reunited with their families. The main objectives of the project were to provide the opportunities for the reintegration and psycho-social reunification of the children, create accommodation facilities for the families, school enrolment and guidance, as well as create alternatives for family income generation.

The project of support to the child/youngster with war experience (a project which had the financial support of UNICEF and was implemented by social welfare through the various provincial directorates of the Ministry for Social Welfare), is a programme which in its first phase anticipated to accompany and reintegrate 850 children/youngsters through visits to the domiciles and integration in some projects to do with income generation and with vocational training.49 The project managed to assist only 376 children distributed as follows: 117 in the province of Gaza, 32 in the province of Maputo, 126 in the province of Nampula and 101 in the province of Zambezia.

The component of higher impact of the project was the vocational training, undertaken in private workshops situated near the homes of the children, where besides professional training (such as carpentry, metalwork,   tinsmith, mechanics, electricity, fishing, raising of goats etc), the children were offered the opportunity of socialising with adult professional teachers and with other children, which was very useful with regards to the learning process and to the re-organisation of basic rules for social conduct for these youngsters. An evaluation done last year (1998) by the Department for Studies and Evaluations (DEA) of the Ministry for Co-ordination of Social Welfare (MICAS), indicates that within the aims of that project, 19,5% of the children involved are attending in school; 55,6% are engaged in occupational activities, and 72,3% register a good family integration.50

It must be noted that this project was also implemented in the provinces of Maputo, Zambezia and Nampula. However, in these provinces no programmes were implemented. The project was limited to the identification of children who were ex-soldiers.

These are examples of some programmes for the reintegration of children who were involved in the armed conflict. There were however others which are just as important and which were implemented by the communities, churches, humanitarian associations and other institutions. As is evident from the above and this must be emphasised, all the institutional programmes had an active participation of the communities, mainly in the joint effort which was done and is still being done, to find a home for the children who were involved in the armed conflict as well as those children who are unaccompanied.

4.2 Participation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Associations

In an attempt to guarantee a better integration of the children involved in the armed conflict, the various social sectors did not keep away from the process of supporting the children traumatised by the war, ex-soldiers,

orphans and the separated or homeless.

Through the various national and foreign NGOs and associations of humanitarian support, different programmes were devised for different areas of intervention, namely the family reunification, rehabilitation of traumatised children, vocational training, projects for income generation, building of schools and clinics etc, activities which were always co-ordinated centrally by government institutions.

The breakdown of programmes of support for the children involved in the armed conflict, at a national level up to the year 1997, per province and per district, is presented in the following table.

Table 1

Breakdown of the Programmes of Support to the Children Involved in the Armed Conflict, until 1997


Maputo 4 programmes

Gaza 4 programmes

Inhambane 2 programmes

Sofala 5 programmes

Manica 3 programmes

Zambezia 5 programmes

Nampula 7 programmes

Niassa 2 programmes

Cabo Delgado 2 programmes

Source: Abubacar Sultan51

Programmes of the NGOs and associations, where one can include the children involved in the armed conflict, also intervene in various sectors, mainly:

€ in the area of rehabilitation of traumatised children - 9 projects;

€ centre for street children - 27 projects;

€ rehabilitation and building of schools - 6 projects;

€ donations of food and clothes - 6 projects;

€ vocational training - 3 projects;

€ community pre-schools - 2 projects;

€ income generation, community development and assistance to handicapped children - 1 project for each programme.

The statistics regarding assistance to children in difficult situations, in Maputo city alone, indicate a total of 2 328, a number which can however be considered lower than the real situation. Of these children:

€ 1 738 are assisted in closed centres;

€ 500 are assisted directly in the streets; and

€ there are 90 who receive no type of assistance.

With regards to the family localisation and reunification, the programme had the technical and financial support of some international organisations of support for the children in a difficult situation, namely the alliance Save The Children (UK and USA) and Redd Barna-Norway, which supply various types of assistance. The activities of this programme were co-ordinated mainly by social welfare, education, health, Red Cross, Mozambican Women Organisation, Mozambican Youth Organisation, and religious denominations.

As mentioned above, in some areas of the country such as in the district of Chibuto in the province of Gaza, projects of assistance to child ex-soldiers reunited with their original or substitute families were implemented.

UNICEF financed some initiatives of integration of child ex-soldiers through the project "Children with Experience of the War", implemented also in the province of Gaza, in the districts of Xai-Xai and Chicualacuala, which also had as an objective to supply self-employment alternatives to the children.

Still in Gaza, the Provincial Directorate for Social Welfare Co-ordination (DPCAS-Gaza) involved some of the children who had been involved in the armed conflict in Bilene-Macia, in activities of vocational training.

Children with experience of the war were integrated in grade 1 in primary school (EP1), and also received vocational training. IBIS, a non-governmental Danish organisation, is financing a project called RECRIVA aimed at the psycho-social rehabilitation of children and youngsters traumatised by the war in the province of Nampula in the north of the country. The project functions in six districts and is implemented in seven centres for psycho-social rehabilitation, where it is thought that the number of traumatised children is higher. The project Œhealing through playing¹ is another initiative of the Mozambican Red Cross (CVM) financed by UNICEF, which has as an objective to assist children with psychological problems due to the war.

The Mozambican Association for Public Health (AMOSAPU), together with the Institute for Psychotrauma of Mozambique (IPM), has initiated investigations on the psychological impact of the war in children and youngsters, and is providing training for non-professional staff in order to enable them to assist those children. They have also elaborated projects of psycho-social assistance directed at the victims of war in the province of Gaza (district of Manjacaze), on the island Josina Machel in the province of Maputo, and in the suburb Zimpeto on the outskirts of Maputo city. The objective of the project is to offer psycho-therapeutic assistance to children and youngsters traumatised by the war, while at the same time trying to improve the conditions for basic schooling, as well as provide possibilities for vocational training and guidance on income generation.

As we previously mentioned, international agencies of the United Nations and others, have rendered technical, material and financial assistance to these initiatives of integration. UNICEF heads the list and continues to be the biggest donor of programmes for children, both through the institutional support to various ministries, namely the ministries of health, education, and social welfare, as well as through the financial support to other government institutions, national NGOs and national associations of a humanitarian nature, in the implementation of projects of support to the children in a difficult situation, including those children who were ex-soldiers and who are psychologically affected by the war.

With regards to financial, technical and material support, the Save The Children Fund (UK and USA) also stand out. Their activities focus on three institutions which are also involved with children, namely, social welfare, health and education. The work of these two agencies extends to provincial and district levels, through the provincial and district offices of these ministries. The organisation Redd Barna-Norway and the Assistance for the Development of People by the People (ADPP) from the Nordic countries, must also be mentioned, as agencies which have been involved in the support of initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the integration of the children.

These are some examples which illustrate programmes initiated by the NGOs and humanitarian associations, aimed at the reintegration of the child victim of the war. There are still other programmes being implemented by other NGOs and associations, but our objective was to illustrate only some of the programmes in some of the areas of reintegration.

4.3. Participation of the Communities Using Traditional Mechanisms

The rural communities have their own mechanisms for restructuring the social structure after moments of crisis (where the war is an extreme case), which form part of an ensemble of knowledge accumulated over various centuries and which is transmitted from generation to generation.

When after a war, the soldiers, refugees, dislodged, traumatised, orphaned or helpless children return home, they deserve special attention. There are  rituals which facilitate the readjustment of those individuals and their reintegration in the family and the community.

Turner (1967:19) speaks of the existence of rituals or temporary rites which constitute an stage in the various phases of physical and social development of the individual, and of the rituals of application which are generally aimed at repairing a social ill and the resolution of social conflict. It is in this second category that the rituals of purification and reintegration are integrated, and this constitutes one of the means used by the families and the communities to reintegrate individuals who were involved in the armed conflict in Mozambique, including children.

In the rural communities, normally, "(...) when an individual leaves his community for a certain period of time and comes into contact with other people or social groups, he always runs the risk of learning harmful, improper and strange things, which can pollute his community when he returns." (Turner;1967:19).

Due to this principle, the communities traditionally have their defence mechanisms against the evils which their members might acquire during their contact with other social environments and with other life experiences. And this is the idea underlying the rituals of purification and integration.

Mozambique has, for example, in certain regions of the south, a tradition from centuries ago of men migrating to the mines in South Africa. The homecoming of these miners, even if it is only temporary, implies the performance of the rituals of purification, as one returns from a world unknown to that community and it is better to ensure that any risk of "contamination" stays outside.

Taking into account that rituals take place to "cleanse" the individual after an absence from home due to work reasons, it is even more valid to perform the ritual after an absence which had to do with "things of the war", mainly because the object of "pollution" is the bloodshed, either directly, or through witnessing bloody or deadly scenes.

Honwana states that "after the war men and women, children and adults who in one way or the other were victims or were involved in the war, had to go through a Œcleansing¹ ritual". And this procedure was important not only for the individual but for the community, which considered it one of the essential conditions to re-establish or maintain harmony in the environment.

These practices of reintegration also took place in Mozambique during and after the armed conflict, whenever an individual returned to his specific community.52

The ritual for reintegration after the war of 1976-1992 was really a necessity for the reintegration of the individual in the family and community group, as, at least under Renamo, those individuals who were kidnapped would undergo a ritual of "breaking the bonds" with their social group. There are cases where youngster ex-soldiers were interviewed and related how they had to commit crimes within their own families, so that they would "erase" any bonding links from them and would "acquire" a new personality.53 After these rituals they would inclusively loose all their names, the traditional and the modern, and would receive a new "war name".

Referring specifically to the child ex-soldiers, Honwana quoting Boaventura Macova a "nyanga" who was then the secretary of the Mozambican Association of Traditional Healers (AMETRANO), describes the ritual of reintegration of a child involved in the war:

"As soon as the child arrived home she was taken to the "ndomba" (house of the spirits) to be introduced to the ancestors. There the elder in the family, (...) addressed the ancestors, informing them that the grandchild had returned home. At the same time the grandfather thanked the ancestors for the fact that the child was alive and had returned to the family."54

This ritual, deals with the reception and the gratitude shown to the ancestors for having protected the child against death. However it is important to have a purification ritual which consists of the following: "(...) we took the child to the bush (about two kilometres from our house), where we built a small reed hut where we put the child dressed in the dirty and torn clothes which she had brought from the base of the ŒMatsangas¹. 55

Afterwards we set fire to the hut and the child already knew that she should get undressed and get out of the hut the minute it started burning (there is always an adult nearby to get the child out of the hut). After the child inhaled the smoke of some roots which were burned, she bathed in water mixed  with powdered roots as a medicine. Later at the house of the Œndomba¹, the child was Œvaccinated¹, (Œkuthlavela¹ - small incisions are made on the wrists, tongue and chest, and a medicinal paste is smeared on these incisions)".

According to the information of Macova quoted by Honwana, a few days after this ritual the child opened up to the family members, chatted and told them what happened during the time she spent with the Renamo soldiers.

Another ceremony which is performed by the communities aimed at the social and community reintegration of people involved in armed conflict is called "Ku-phalha", a ritual of propitiation of the spirits as worshipping of the ancestors, which can be carried out within the family circle and is performed by the oldest member of the family, when it deals with a domestic issue; or, if it has a wider dimension, is usually performed by the traditional chief with the participation of the whole community. The ceremonies performed within the family take place to solve problems of a family nature, while those performed by the traditional chiefs are aimed at sorting out community problems. With the end of the war, all over the country, ceremonies of a private family nature were performed, to reintegrate the individual into the family; and also ceremonies of a community nature, so that the community could once again welcome a member who had been absent, or to welcome a new member who had opted for settling within that community.56

Therefore, it must noted that one important aspect of community reintegration which occurs as an important condition for the whole community, is the existence of family cults "to communicate to the spirits of the ancestors the fact that the child returned home". Those ceremonies are important to "communicate (the return) of a member of the family to the spirit of the ancestors, or to do 'ku-phalha' which means to ask for the good and to get rid of the evil 57". Therefore, this means that "the separation of the old state of things is symbolised through certain rituals", which Van Gennep calls rituals of separation; "then starts a period of isolation, during which the individual or group in question is separated from society and submitted to a certain number of taboos and rites; thirdly, at the end of this period the people who were taboos are once again welcomed into the community with their regular members through rituals of aggregation58". These rituals or ceremonies which the families and the communities perform, mean different forms of integrating the child in the family and of defending them against ultimate problems which that integration might bring to the family and to the child.

In this way, the performance of these ceremonies as rituals of integration, create a spiritual tranquillity in the people while individuals living in communities see themselves (feel) protected and capable of confronting any situation which the integration of children involved in armed conflict might bring about.

In this way the communities fulfil a very important role in the reintegration of the children involved in the armed conflict, as it is in the community that the child is integrated and it is there that all social issues relating to the individuals and to the social group to which he belongs, happen. It is also there where the mechanisms are established to reorganise social order when this is in disarray.

On the island Josina Machel in the district of Manhiça (Maputo), for example, there is a project organised by AMOSAPU at the level of the community, with ex-soldier children. A clergyman, in an interview with the Mozambican television TVM(9/05/97), stated the importance of the collective ritual which he performed, to make the children forget, as a group, what they had seen during the war: "I purified them because they had seen many skeletons." These rituals are important integrations from a community point of view, collectively to alleviate past feelings and contribute towards the creation and reinforcement of social harmony. The community intervenes here through its specialists in rituals, towards the integration of the group in a more generic context.

Another concrete example of the role of community participation and intervention in the resolution of problems of the "children involved in armed conflict", is the Programme for Family Localisation and Reunification (PLRF) mentioned above, which was co-ordinated by the government through social welfare and other humanitarian organisations or associations, and which had a wide community participation, both in the localisation of families of children lost, separated from their families, as well as in the integration of those children in their families, by awarding them all the possibilities of integration in a community, even when they do not know their parents or direct family members.

The communities also serve as receptacles for the activities of other institutions which work in the integration of the children involved in the armed conflict. Government policies and strategies with regards to supporting the children, rely on the communities as it is they who end up receiving these children and providing the mechanisms for their integration.

This is done through individuals and/or families who participate in the integration of these children, welcoming them during the difficult times in their lives and integrating them in their families, such as the following deposition relating to the case of little Sarita illustrates: "I went to ask social welfare to allow me to take Sarita (a child today integrated within a substitute family) and they allowed me. But it happened that she had an older brother. After having noticed that he cried for her all the time, after she left, they contacted us and proposed that we also take her brother and we accepted".59

5. Continuation of Activities during Times of Peace

A great majority of the activities carried out by the state and other structures in the post-war period, were initiated during the war. But the existence of an environment of peace created new and better conditions for a wider involvement in the issue of integration of children involved in the armed conflict. The activities initiated during the war were extended into the more remote areas which were inaccessible during the war, and also currently meet with a wider participation of society and of the community in general.

However, we can state that at a central level, during the present phase of the end of the war, the needs of this target group are met within the context of sectarian and inter-sectarian policies of support to the child in a difficult situation (including the child victims of war, orphaned, separated, abandoned and ex-soldiers). And in answer to this growing need, the Ministry for Co-ordination of Social Welfare was created after the first multiparty elections in 1994, its main function being to co-ordinate all activities aimed at solving the problems faced by a vulnerable population, including the children in need. The creation of this ministry is seen as a acknowledgement by the part of the state for the need for the existence of a central body to co-ordinate all the activities carried out by the state institutions and by society, while at the same time providing the support, assistance to social integration and progress reporting of these children.

The status of "co-ordinator" awarded to this ministry illustrates the acknowledgement on the part of the state that the social problems are multifaceted and are of the responsibility of society as a whole, which implies a wider involvement in their resolution, by both civilians and the state.

The present strategies of the Ministry for Co-ordination of Social Welfare (MICAS) with regards to the assistance to children in needy and difficult circumstances, are a continuation of those which were initiated during the war and which consist on the implementation and co-ordination of programmes and projects of assistance to children in needy circumstances, in the areas of family reunification, psycho-social rehabilitation, integration through the creation of opportunities for vocational training, projects for income generation, facilities for access to schools, integration of children with special needs in formal schools etc.

As an example of these programmes, we have the already mentioned the Programme for the Family Localisation and Reunification (PLRF), as well as:

€ Community Based Support Programme (ABC), which assists handicapped people including child victims of the war;

€ Projects for Street Children;

€ Community Nursery Schools and Institutional Assistance.

Through its various provincial offices, MICAS implements some specific projects in some provinces, such as the project for the creation of micro-enterprises involving groups of youngsters who were involved in the armed conflict in the province of Gaza. It further collaborates in projects of psycho-social rehabilitation of traumatised children implemented by AMOSAPU in Gaza and Maputo; and the project RECRINA (Rehabilitation of the Children of Nampula) of IBIS, among others.

As the needs are many and wide, the programmes of the post-war period also acquire this characteristic. Thus, at the level of education and in accordance with the national policy regarding education and strategies for the implementation of programmes, the concern is to increase the network of primary schools in the more remote areas; to guarantee better teacher training; and to support students in the acquisition of school material through the free distribution of schoolbooks to the more needy, obviously including the child victims of the war.

The Ministry of Education also implemented a policy called "assistance to the children with special needs", a programme not specifically directed at the child victims of war, but at all children with special educational needs, namely children with handicaps or deficiencies, with learning problems, with behavioural problems and with traumas related to the war and to violence.

The pilot programme of this project is currently running in six provinces, previously selected.

5.1 Some Problems of the Present Moment

With the advent of peace, there are problems related to the continuation of the programme for the reintegration of the children involved in the armed conflict in Mozambique. The reconstruction needs are many and varied, and the programmes specifically related to this target group face the following problems:

1 Despite the efforts mentioned above, and the commitment and goodwill on the part of the state and of the communities, the role of the international agencies and of the NGOs which assist children affected by the war, lately has been reduced drastically. And this is due to the fact that once the war was over, the support of these agencies was directed more towards the development of programmes of a much wider context, thus leaving a huge gap in the support to the children who were previously involved in the armed conflict.

With the withdrawal or reduction of a number of these agencies, the few NGOs, national associations and even the state institutions which work in support of the social integration of the children, are faced with financial, material and even technical problems, as those agencies that withdrew not only worked on the ground, but were financing these programmes. With their withdrawal, various institutions, NGOs and associations were forced to close their doors or decrease their field of activity by lack of resources to conclude or continue their activities initiated during the war, in a situation of transition from an economy of war to an economy of peace, from a period of political instability to a period of political stability, of democracy and of peace. This seems to be a paradox, but it is reality.

In view of this, the fulfilment of these programmes and the creation of others, is fragile due to the lack of financial and material resources.

Within this context, the increasing development towards an integrated market economy, has presented an increasing obstacle to looking after a vulnerable population, including the children involved in the armed conflict, as the vulnerability tends to increase.60


2 The omissions of the General Peace Accord (AGP) for not having established any mechanism which made provision for the formal demobilisation of the child soldiers or those involved in armed conflict by lack of  acknowledgement of their existence, also constitutes another limitation to the present reality.

Due to the fact that the majority of these children return to their families and to their communities, it is not easy to trace them and place them in projects or programmes for rehabilitation and social integration. Children were prevented from benefiting from programmes and services offered by UNOMOZ through the programme for reintegration of demobilised soldiers, because the demobilisation process was not anticipating the demobilisation of minors.

6 Conclusion

One can say that, generally, the policies relating to education, health, social welfare and emergency, aimed at assisting and integrating the children involved in the armed conflict in Mozambique, tried and continue trying to attenuate and oppose the devastating effects of the war on children, and to find alternatives and solutions for a better social integration of children involved in the armed conflict.

The joint work and collaboration efforts among the government entities, NGOs, associations, donors and inter-governmental agencies for humanitarian assistance, have been facilitated by the efforts of families and communities in the search for alternatives for survival, restoration and social reintegration of the children involved in the armed conflict, using for this purpose locally available mechanisms. In the meantime, the financial limitations and the change in support options by the donors have made it difficult for the projects to continue successfully, forcing the scale to tip on the side of work and resources which can be mobilised locally within the communities.

As illustrated, the communities and the families have been deeply involved in the process of normalisation of the lives of their children and assisted in overcoming the social crisis created by the war. The models of integration utilised by the communities fall within their own symbolic and traditional schemes, expressing their vision with regards to the social phenomena and the restoration of social stability.

Within this context, a questioning thought of Richman remains as an illustration as one questions or not, the methods for reintegration used by the communities.


"An additional matter," says Richman, "is if the Western obsession with the inner world (subconscious, conflicting), separated from the social world of involvement, has not imposed a way of thinking on the Œideal way¹ of confronting suffering; that, in fact, it is not relevant to all societies or to all situations. That, in fact, symbolic answers to suffering and methods of confronting it which involve denial, distancing, even repression, can be more relevant in some situations. We need to acknowledge and reinforce the mechanisms to confront suffering, identifying those that will help, and we need to determine what types of emotional reactions are needed. For example, an assistance of the type Œconfronting the problem by talking, talking exhaustively about it¹. The challenge is to develop means of support which might integrate different approaches, and which will be sensitive to the cultural context of the specific society." (1991:18).

It is therefore not up to us to raise the issue of evaluating or not the efficiency, efficacy or validity of the traditional methods in the institutional level, but to understand those actions as mechanisms which guide the lives and existence of the individual and of the social groups which these constitute within the communities. And in the case of Mozambique, these have proved to function with a positive result.

Finally, a problem related to the present moment of peace and which arises from the "dispersion" of the children previously concentrated in areas of better security, is allied to difficulties of a financial nature. The dispersion, which was an objective to be reached, as it implies having finally placed the children within their original or substitute families and living a community life outside the shelter centres, implies more costs, precisely at a time when the funds start being scarce. This combination of geographical dispersion of the children combined with the lack of funds, makes it difficult for the process of reintegration to advance, and thus prevents the implementation of joint and integrated projects aimed at rehabilitating each child and youngster as an individual, towards total social integration. As a consequence, the work shall be more concentrated within the families and communities where the children are placed, trusting the mechanisms which exist there to monitor these situations.


* Translated by Elizabethe Soares, Unisa, South Africa.

1 Sultan; 1997:2.

2 It must be noted that Mozambique was the only country which fully adhered to the recommendations of the United Nations with regards to the application of sanctions against the then Rhodesia, inclusively closing its borders with that country.

3 Roesch; 1993:2.

4 Communal villages constitute a new form of territorial organisation of the population which had as an objective to meet the needs of production and of the war. This new form of organisation relies on collective production and on the concentration of population, taking into account that isolation implies insecurity for the populations due to the war launched by the enemy. In this regard, the eighth session of the Central Committee of Frelimo, held in February 1976, concluded that the communal village, while being an organised structure for rural production (...), must constitute the future social structure of the Mozambican rural society (Araújo;1988:182-183).

5 Roesch; 1991:13.

6 The Mozambican rural communities have a model for social organisation which groups them according to genealogy within a specific territory, and this connection with the area is very important to the social and individual structure, that is it has to do with the regulations for the maintenance of law and order, the model for production, the consolidation of the personality of the individual and even the peace within families and social groups. The attempt to group communities in the rural areas according to an arbitrary model, to promote a more integrated development (health, school, water, roads etc), although well intentioned clashed with this traditional model and created problems. Mainly because there was an external factor looking for mistakes internally, to capitalise them for their actions of destabilisation. Geffray;1991:19, studies and analyses this issue, with regards to the northern area of the province of Nampula.

7 Designation given by the colonial government to the African traditional authority, existing within the political structure of the local communities and based on the dominant genealogy of each area. This authority was used by the colonial government to serve as an intermediary, as a link between the communities and the state, thus trying to attain a legitimacy which the fact that it was "an occupation power" did not allow. For its nature, and present situation, see Baptista Lundin; 1998: 33-44.

8 Ratilal; 1989: 33.

9 Taju; 1998: 33.

10 Taju; 1988: 23-25.

11 Roesch; 1992: 468.

12 Hanlon; 1991: 33.

13 The author did intensive research work in these areas during 1993-1995, from where he extracted part of the material used here.

14 Ratilal; 1989: 46.

15 Ratilal; 1989: 43.

16 Little & Baptista Lundin; 1994: iii-iv.

17 O PRE, was changed into PRES, when the social component was added to the programme.

18 SEAS; 1993: 2.

19 Lopes; 1992: 71.

20 Chachiua raises this issue in "The Impact of Demobilisation in Mozambique - O Impacto da Desmobilização em Moçambique" (Baptista Lundin et al, in print). And it is pertinent, as, on the one hand, the governmental army was underpaid (a sergeant earned US$50 per month, when he was paid), and on the other, the Renamo forces were guerrilla forces, who normally (and almost by definition) drew from the civilian population, in an either voluntary or compulsory way, what they need to survive. The enormous burden placed on the farmers as rural producers of food, can be realised when one knows that there were around 100 000 soldiers involved in the fighting; a burden not adequately accounted for by specialists in the matter.

21 Lopes; 1992: 20.

22 Ratilal; 1989: 42-48.

23 In 1987, 847 health units and centres were destroyed or  paralysed and forced to close down. This number represents one third of the primary health care centres of the country (Ratilal;1989:43; please also refer to table no 21, p 184)

24 Ratilal; 1989: 44

25 Ratilal; 1989: 43; please also refer to the statistical table no 9, p 183.

26 Olson; 1990: 44-45

27 UNDP; 1990: s/p

28 Substitute family is the individual or family who chooses or is forced (according to the circumstances) to assume the responsibility of taking in a child, who either for an indeterminate or a specific period of time was left orphaned or without any other family members or is separated from them due to the war, natural calamities or any other reason. This individual or family does not have any rights on the child, and should the parents or family turn up the child must be given back to them (Maússe & Sitoe; 1994: 15, note 21)

29 Maússe; 1995: Annexure II, pp 1-5

30 It must be pointed that youngsters and children (as well as a large number of adults, men and women) were kidnapped or force to enlist in the frontline, both in the rural as well as in the urban areas. The laws were not really enforced by the governmental forces, and Renamo did not seem to to adhere to any laws.

31 Database of the technical unit of UNOMOZ:s/d.

32 There is information that in certain areas of the south (Nhamala and Changamine, in Gaza; and in areas of Inhambane) groups of child-soldiers refused to return home without receiving compensation for their participation  in the conflict. However, it is believed that these youngsters might have been persuaded to return home after having received a "kit" with some clothing and tools, presumably offered by UNOMOZ (Sultan; 1997: 17).

33 Child ex-soldiers are those children, both male and female, who during the war took part in various activities of a military nature, either voluntarily or by force, and they were in both parties involved in the war, namely they had contact with war equipment (cleaning, manufacturing, repairing, transporting or using arms); they were trained; they performed auxiliary activities as, for example, radio operators, spies or military guides (Sultan; 1997:2)

34 MediaFax, no 1578, 13/08/1998: 3-4.

35 It must be noted, however, that the first Renamo soldier to be officially demobilised by UNOMOZ, declared to be then 16 years of age.

36 This is "vacuum" which is filled with a pain which will never disappear; a bad remembrance which can be softened, but which will always be present, according to world experience.

37 Djeddah quoting Boothby, N "Displaced Children: psychological theory and practice from the field." Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol 5, no 2, 1992.

38 UNICEF; 1994: 44

39 Raundalen; s/d: 36

40 Here there is also wider participation of various sectors of society, through the creation of centres for support to children in difficult situations, by the NGOs and humanitarian associations.

41 Please note the degree of priority in the hierarchy of these initiatives.

42 Richman (1991:14-17) through interviews with teachers, relates some of the difficulties of the special education programme, emphasising the support given by the communities to the work of the teachers.

43 "Vulnerable people" are those affected by the war and other calamities, including the demobilised soldiers. Furthermore, it also includes people who returned from eastern European countries, where they were working or studying.

44 The first children who were assisted in this programme had been ex-soldiers abducted from their homes and families, and had gone through horrible experiences which any healthy human mind would have difficulty accepting as true.

45 In two weeks, close to 200 unaccompanied children sheltered in institutions in Maputo city and in community centres on the outskirts of the city, were processed. They ultimately were reunited with their families. (The Lhanguene Initiative, SCF-US; 1988).

46 This campaign photographed all the non-accompanied children and distributed fliers throughout the country looking for at least one family member, so that the child would then be able to return home. The flier indicated where the child could be found and what steps to take in order to contact him or her.

47 Please note that with the rituals of integration, the children become traditionally part of the substitute families. These are obviously difficult situations, from an economic point of view, and could mean a difficult life ahead for these children, but not more so than for any of the other children in the family.

48 According to the five-yearly report of the Ministry for Social Welfare. Maputo: MICAS; 1998

49 Department for Studies and Evaluations of the Ministry of Social Welfare; 1998:5 and 10, and table on p 20.

50 The project involves 64 children and youngsters with war experience, but only 36 children were located and interviewed. Statistical data from DEA-MICAS; 1998.

51 Sultan; 1994: 4

52 It must be remembered that during the colonial war the same happened with the soldiers who fought alongside the present government.

53 Information provided by Baptista Lundin, during a personal conversation.

54 Honwana (1993), quoting the secretary of AMETRAMO.

55 Term generally identifying the guerrilla fighters of Renamo, which derives from the name of the first leader of the movement, André Matsanguaíssa.

56 Due to the ceremonies of ìdisintegrationî which took place during the war, as well as military incursions in their home areas, which were very destructive, with the end of war many demobilised Renamo soldiers preferred to settle in areas far from their places of origin (see Baptista Lundin "The impact of demobilisation in Mozambique").

57 Clotilde Murai, a "nyanga" quoted by Maússe; 1995: 61.

58 Van Gennep, M A V - "Le Rite de Passage. Paris: Nourry,1909, quoted by Junod;1974:79.

59 Maússe; 1995: 51, quoting the substitute father of Sarita and Beto.

60 The present process of privatisation, is bringing about increasing unemployment, and placing families in a very vulnerable position, as they can no longer rely on a regular salary.


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