The Commander of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), Contingent Colonel Michael Walaka Hyeroba, under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), has received a team of researchers from Save the Children and the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) in Kenya on a research engagement on the effects of war on children in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu, Eastern DRC.
Col. Hyeroba noted that the negative impacts of war in the DRC, especially on the children, who experience child labour, abductions, and are forced into various armed groups, stem from the insecurity within the DRC.
IPSTC is an international centre of excellence in Peace Support Operations (PSO) that conducts training, education, and research, informing military, police, and civilian personnel in all aspects of peace support operations in order to improve the effectiveness of the response to complex emergencies.
The Head of the IPSTC research team, Lt. Col. Japeth Madada Mwasaru said that the exercise targeted EACRF keepers, starting with the force headquarters, to provide them with knowledge on how forces can manage children in armed conflict and guide the peacekeepers on how to handle child victims, witnesses of grave violations, and professional steps that can be taken while protecting children.
“The discussion aimed at training and educating the EACRF peacekeepers engaged in peace support operations about the general management and handling of children affected by armed groups,” Mwasaru said.
Fatuma Ibrahim, a trainer at IPSTC said that the research was based on six grave violations that the United Nations is mandated to monitor and report on under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005).
“These include denial of humanitarian access for children, attacks against schools or hospitals, abductions of children, sexual violence against children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, and killing and maiming of children,” said Ibrahim.
The team noted that Rutshuru is a territory that has experienced conflict for many years, where children in the area continue to face numerous challenges that include abductions, recruitment into militias, maiming and killing of children, and sexual violence, among others.