2. Country Profiles
2.6.1. Current State of Armed Conflict
Mozambique gained its independence only after a ten-year armed struggle between the Portuguese colonialist forces and the nationalist forces led by Frente de Libertação Nacional (FRELIMO). Mozambicans' desire for independence was met by the Portuguese with massacres and aggression; in addition to the historical memory of other outbreaks of political violence, the people of other communities throughout Mozambique had fairly recent experiences with war by the time the conflict between the ruling socialist government of FRELIMO and counter-insurgency forces of Resistencia Nacional de Mozambique (RENAMO) broke out shortly after independence. Nevertheless, the particular global political forces at work in the FRELIMO-RENAMO conflict at the time, made it especially brutal and destructive. For one thing, this last conflict did not unite Mozambicans against a common external aggressor, as had occurred in the colonial wars. Rather, the internal conflicts which FRELIMO's socialist policies may have engendered in its early post-independence rule, were fuel by regional apartheid and global cold war politics aimed at promoting destabilization throughout southern Africa. Fearing the presence of a strong black nationalists socialist government sympathetic to anti-apartheid forces, RENAMO was initially supported by the white Southern Rhodesian Government until 1980, and subsequently by the racist government of South Africa. FRELIMO, on the other hand, had been supported by the Eastern socialist bloc, and thus suffered the economic and political repercussions of its choice of allegiance in East-West relations.
Although FRELIMO and RENAMO signed a peace accord in 1992 and organized democratic multi-party elections in 1994, the conflict has taken a spiritual and psychological as well as material toll on children, their families and communities. The psychic repercussions of the particular political forces behind the conflict were especially serious, for the regional destabilization campaign had as one of its objectives the destruction of the fibre of social life and community stability (Vines, 1991).
The conflict cost almost 1 million human lives, 45% of who were children under the age of 15 (UNDP, 1990). One and a half million Mozambicans had to seek refuge in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. Still another 3 million became "internally displaced' as rural communities were forced to migrate to urban centres or places militarily more secure. 600,000 children found themselves deprived of access to school due to the destruction of 2,655 primary schools, 22 secondary and 36 boarding schools in rural areas (Ratilal, 1989). By the end of the conflict, 2 million anti-personnel mines were still scattered around the country. By 1988, UNICEF estimated that almost 250,000 Mozambican children suffered from psychic and physical traumas. These children had witnessed the death of their parents and family, had been forcibly displaced from their homes in search of secure shelter, and had been subjected to various forms of abuse, including kidnappings and sexual violence. Countless families were decimated or separated.
Children were also used as soldiers by all sides involved in the conflict. According to UNICEF, around 10,000 children were still being used in combat by RENAMO's guerilla forces in 1988. An unknown number of children were forcibly integrated into the "milicias populares", local paramilitary forces directed by FRELIMO. Many children were also used as soldiers in the government army. The data gathered during demobilization efforts at the end of the conflict revealed that 27% (around 25,498) of the demobilized soldiers had been under the age of 18 at the time of their recruitment. Of these, 16, 553 belonged to the government forces of FRELIMO and 8, 945 to RENAMO (ONUMOZ, 1994).
2.6.2. Domestic Framework for Protection of Children
2.6.3. The Dimensions of the Problem of Child Soldiers
|Information with respect to the magnitude and dimension of the problem of child soldiers in Mozambique is not yet available even after many requests were made to several NGOs and UN bodies to provide the researcher with such a background. It is therefore imperative to realize the difficulty in trying to obtain information of this nature. But this does not means that the information is never there, but to show the importance of the continuation of the survey in order to achieve a better out come.|
2.6.4. Measures taken to address problem:
a) Government, b) UN agencies, c) External Donors and d) NGOs
|Measures taken to address this problem could not be properly analyzed because of the difficulty of accessing such information among the NGOs and the UN agencies in the field in Mozambique. Although there exist information in this regard, it would need enough time to be spent in around Mozambique to come out with accurate and reliable information for better programming of programs dedicated to former child soldiers in Mozambique.|
2.6.5. Impact of measures