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MDRP Dissemination Note No. 3

Psychosocial Issues in the Demobilization
and Reintegration of Ex-Combatants

June - July 2008

This note is based on the proceedings of an MDRP Technical Coordination Group (TCG) meeting on the psychological effects of conflict on ex-combatants, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 28 – 30, 2007. Representatives from seven MDRP countries participated in the meeting, which brought together international and national experts and program implementers dealing with the important issue of psychosocial support.

The TCG followed a national confer-ence in Rwanda that looked at the impact of psychological trauma among various vulnerable categories of persons including ex-combatants. The Rwanda conference resulted in a draft national strategy and actions to be undertaken by the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC).

When ex-combatants return to their communities of origin, they often discover that their prolonged absence and suspected anti-social acts have given birth to a sense of mistrust within the community towards them, even leading to rejection in some contexts. Confronted by difficulties in reintegrating in their communities, MDRP Dissemination Notesome ex-combatants require psy-chosocial assistance.

In most cases, the local capacity needed to deal with psychosocial concerns of the community and of the ex-combatants is inadequate. At times, there is also a lack of coordination among service providers. The difficulties that ex-combatants face in their reintegration also affect the local communities - poverty, lack of information and ignorance about the resources available to address psychosocial concerns.

It is clear that the creation of psy-chosocial assistance capacities or their reinforcement, as well as the coordination of the various entities in charge of psychosocial support, would result in higher rates of rehabilitation of ex-combatants. The process should be designed to instill a sense of confid-ence in the ex-combatants and positive-ly affect their behavior in society.

Psychosocial interventions require the involvement of every level in the community: government ministries, education and training institutions, the ex-combatants themselves, their families, their communities, inter-national and national service providers, and religious and civil institutions.

 

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