Practice Relating to Rule 132. Return of Displaced Persons
In 2006, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sierra Leone stated with regard to the “resettlement and reintegration of displaced and returnee children” following the end of the civil conflict in January 2002:
272. Closely related to the issue of children associated with the fighting forces is the resettlement and reintegration of displaced/separated children as well as returnee children into communities.
273. In its 2005 Midterm Programme Review, UNICEF-Sierra Leone reported that 93 per cent of all registered separated children in Sierra Leone have been reintegrated. The FTR [Family Tracing and Reunification] programme, which comprised key stakeholders in protection matters for children such as the Police, other CPN [Child Protection Partners] partners and local authorities, proved to be efficient and reliable in tracing and reuniting families with their lost children.
274. The International Committee of the Red Cross also supported the FTR programme by publishing pictures of children who had been found along with their biological data to facilitate public identification and tracing. Significant reunification was achieved through this method as well. IRC [International Rescue Committee], a CPN partner, also reports employing various rural/village level reintegration mechanisms for separated and ex-combatant children. Cleansing rituals and family reunification was achieved through these programmes; and in many cases involving sexually-abused child victims, communities accepted the victims and their plights as incidents of war. War Child-Sierra Leone and several other CPN partners also use recreation and psychosocial healing to impact effective reintegration of affected children.
275. The Government particularly reports that in 2003 alone, the Ministry for Social Welfare and its CPN partners together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) effectively resettled and reintegrated a total of 478 Sierra Leonean children, comprising 310 boys and 168 girls, from the neighbouring countries of Guinea and Liberia. The Ministry and its partners equally provided alternative care for 408 separated Liberian children as earlier explained. One hundred and thirty one of these Liberian children were subsequently reunified with their families.