Comparative Perspectives on the Rehabilitation of Ex-Slaves and Former Child Soldiers with Special Reference to Sudan

by Randall Fegley

Abstract

Despite the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, reconstruction of southern Sudan remains a daunting task, which limited resources and unlimited suspicions may derail or delay. Among myriad issues facing agencies and their client communities are the problems of assisting children traumatized by the brutal legacies of Sudan’s first half century of independence. Given the length of Sudan’s conflicts, few have experienced a “normal” childhood. Furthermore, the psychological and social aspects of rehabilitation have only been examined recently. This article tabulates the successes and failures of governmental and non-governmental programs rehabilitating former slaves, many of whom were or are children, and child soldiers, many of whom are now adults. It compares activities in Sudan to programs in other parts of Africa (Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Uganda) and beyond (Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates). Applying these comparisons in the absence of long-term assessments, the author endeavors to determine pitfalls to be avoided and best practices to be followed.

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Randall Fegley is assistant professor of history and politics and coordinator of Global Studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Berks Campus. Having lived in Sudan from 1980 to 1984, he specializes in African societies’ recovery from mass trauma, especially in Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and Equatorial Guinea. A life member of the Sudan Studies Association, he has served on the SSA’s board of directors and as a conference host.