RET has been active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, since 2012, with projects aiming to Disarm, Demobilize and Reintegrate (DDR) adolescent soldiers who have been recruited, most often forcefully, into illegal armed groups. Eastern DRC, and especially the Kivu provinces North and South Kivu, remain very volatile, even after the end of the second Congo War in 2003. The Kivus continue to host numerous illegal militias, despite the best efforts of the Government and the presence of a United Nations Mission.
In 2012, RET started implementing DDR projects in Uvira, South Kivu, and in 2015, RET moved to Goma in North Kivu with a successful rehabilitation/ reintegration program. This has gained recognition by the local government through the Executive Unit of the National Program of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (UEPN-DDR), and the national army, and both have requested RET’s continued support with future DDR efforts. To ensure sustainability, RET focuses not only on former soldiers, but also vulnerable youth, so that support for ex-combatants does not become a positive reason to enter the armed groups; awareness raising within communities also contributes to the prevention of future recruitment.
RET has directly supported 41,291 ex-combatants and parents/caregivers and through 16 projects.
Some, not all, quantifiable results from RET’s DDR programs:
- Less than 1% of reinserted ex-combatants re-joined armed groups.
- Over 85% of trained key stakeholders, including leaders of armed groups, have signed letters of commitment to refrain from, or to support the prevention of, the use of those below 18 in armed groups.
- Over 90% of ex-combatants reinserted into schools are still in school after one year.
- In a given year, over 30 Peace Projects are implemented by the supported Youth Associations to engage youth in a positive manner, and to promote peace over violence.