RET has been successfully implementing projects aimed at stabilizing communities through (1) Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program (2) Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Reconciliation programs (3) Prevention of Radicalization and Violent Extremism (PVE) (4) Mainstreaming Social Cohesion (5) Youth Civic Empowerment & Human Rights Programs; RET uses a holistic family-centered approach to restore the social fabric between and within communities due to migration-induced rupture; community engagement and community-based mechanisms; Institution-strengthening; Social and Intergenerational dialogues; and ultimately through empowering youth to become agents of positive social change in their respective communities.
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR)
Since 2012, RET has been implementing successful DDR programs for children and adolescents who have been engaged with armed groups. RET’s approach to DDR is holistic, intending to bring about lasting change in communities affected by the recruitment of underage combatants. It includes
(1) prevention strategies, such as awareness-raising amongst non-state armed groups, district, and provincial authorities, as well as at more grass-roots community level. Also, RET builds the capacities of local Youth Associations to engage more children and adolescents in positive community engagement, as a protection mechanism against recruitment.
(2) Demobilization of ex-combatants is done in full collaboration with national and local partners.Following the legal and formal demobilization process is over, in collaboration with local authorities, the adolescents go through a “Re-orientation” 3-month comprehensive rehabilitation program in RET’s Centers of Transit and Orientation (CTO). The Centre for Transition (CTO) also provides relevant learning opportunities, to give the young people with relevant skills with which to return to their community. These include basic literacy/numeracy, catch up education for those returning to school, and simple trade skills for income-generation.
(3) A comprehensive and fully supported reinsertion program ensures that ex-combatants are received back into their communities, engage in school or income-generation, and engage with Youth Associations.
(4) Training for parents to form local cooperatives village savings and loans schemes and other sustainable business practices completes the circle, as poverty and unemployment are fundamental causes of the continuation of armed activity.
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 commitment letters to refrain from or to support the use of adolescents below 18 in armed groups.
- Over 90% of ex-combatants reinserted into schools are still in school after one year.
- Over 30 Peace Projects are implemented by the rehabilitated youth to promote peace.
Jobs for Peace & Resilience – Community Stabilization
SDG 8 (Decent Work) is an essential element of the triple nexus RET is using and represents RET’s approach in mitigating the socio-economic adversities using a multisectoral approach in multiple key areas of intervention.
RET’s approach aims to mainstream social cohesion and peaceful coexistence through equitable access to livelihoods and decent jobs. Equal access to livelihoods helps prevent outbreaks of social tension between communities experiencing a sense of inequality and injustice, including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities.
Youth Civic Engagement
The youth Civic Engagement program aims to reduce the potential for conflict by harnessing the energy of youth for peace and social cohesion, and engaging youth-at-risk not only, in formal education and technical training, but also facilitating their access to economic opportunities as well as income generation and strengthening their leadership skills through youth organization. Also, RET uses different tools to promote the youth’s sense of community through “Responsible Citizenship Program”, and “Conflict Prevention” approaches to encourage “dialogue” and “intergenerational discussions” in a safe environment and to mitigate ethnic and political divides through the employment of a common form of work. Eventually contributing to peace consolidation and reconciliation at the community level.
Prevention of Radicalization & Violent Extremism
The root causes of violent extremism are complex, diverse, and intertwined and relate to the structural environment in which radicalization and violent extremism can flourish. Violent extremism is the result of historical, political, economic, and social circumstances, including the impact of regional and global power politics. Growing horizontal inequalities are one of the frequently cited push factors of violent extremism. Unemployment and poverty alone are not the only push factors that stimulate violence and radicalization: perceptions of injustice, human rights violations, social exclusion, widespread corruption, or persistent mistreatment of certain groups are also considered important factors. When all these horizontal inequalities come together for a particular group, radical movements and violence are more likely. People are drawn into radical and violent movements through deliberate manipulation and accompanying processes (socialization), which are often influenced by personal, emotional or psychological factors such as alienation, search for identity and dignity, revenge for the previous mistreatment, rupture in communication between authority figures and young people as well as virtual communities in social media (pull factors).
RET’s approach is to tackle these “push and pull” factors simultaneously. To this extent, RET implements a three-axis model that takes into account vulnerability at the micro-level of vulnerable individuals and the meso-level of marginalized, underprivileged communities.
RET’s intervention is in line the “United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” that stress the importance of (i) dialogue, (ii) engaging communities; (iii) empowering youth, congruent with (iv) skills development and employment facilitation (among other initiatives and measures), as a means for preventing conflict and countering extremism.
Promotion of Refugees and Migrants rights in Costa Rica
The project aimed to strengthen the capacities of relevant public institutions, migrant and refugee leaders to promote, support and safeguard the fulfillment of refugees’ and migrants’ rights in San José, Costa Rica. RET identified the needs to strengthen the capacities of groups of refugee leaders facing challenges accessing capacity building trainings and to strengthen the public officials facing inter-institutional management challenges in public institutions in the GAM region by helping them build a strategic articulation network to facilitate access to refugee rights and train their peers in various work spaces. RET has developed a number of ‘alternative’ programs to guarantee adolescents, youth and their families have access to basic human rights in different settings, during conflict, post-conflict and in fragile contexts. All these initiatives have promoted not only the understanding and fulfilment of rights by concerned groups, but also the strengthening of institution´s functions to observe human rights.
Response to the migration crisis of the Nicaraguan refugee population and asylum seeker.
The political crisis in Nicaragua (2018) had a direct impact on the growing number of refuge requests of Nicaraguan people fleeing their home in search of international protection in central America and particularly in Costa Rica. The project addressed the needs of the Nicaraguan population in Costa Rica through the provision of basic humanitarian assistance such as health, education, shelter and food, laterally promoted socio-cultural integration through awareness campaigns for the prevention of violence and xenophobia. The project facilitated the access to refugee rights through legal counselling and coordination with state and local institutions and finally promoted the educational inclusion of Nicaraguan NNAJ refugees and asylum seekers for integration into the educational community in the host community. RET implemented this project in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), with a focus on the vulnerable communities of Guararí, Desamparados and Cartago and in the districts of Aguas Zarcas, Alajuela and the cantons of Garabito, Puntarenas and Santa Cruz and finally Guanacaste.