Special care to children during peace support operations: Child protection training of trainers course

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Save the Children International (SCI) through the East Africa regional office, the Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA) and the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) organized a child protection training of trainers course at RPA, Musanze Rwanda, from 28 September to 9 October 2015. The workshop was aimed at equipping child protection trainers with appropriate knowledge and skills to conduct training on child rights, monitoring and reporting of child right violations in a conflict environment and child protection against violation in a conflict environments. The course attracted civilian, police and military participants from 9 countries in Africa namely: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Seychelles and Uganda.

‘Since 1998 Save the Children has been enhancing capacities of the military and police consigned for deployment in peace missions across Africa. As practitioners working to protect children in armed conflict, we acknowledge the existing efforts to build capacity of peacekeepers on child protection; however, there is need to standardize and harmonize the training resources.’ Antony Ombara SCI East Africa Region Child Protection Coordinator- African Union Peace Support Operations project speaking during the opening ceremony.

He further remarked that, ‘To augment the existing materials on Protection of Civilians (PoC), Save the Children working with key experts has supported efforts to harmonize the course curriculum focusing on the six core competencies specific to child protection course that are required by peace support operations personnel on handling issues of children including: Knowledge and application of children’s rights in armed conflict; Knowledge of children and the effects of armed conflict on children; Interaction and communication with children, their families and communities; Collaboration with all formal and informal stakeholders towards a coordinated response to protection issues; knowledge and application of the rules of ethics and professional conduct; Efficient use of working tools adapted to children.’

Among the topics covered during the 2 weeks training included:

  • Understanding conflict
  • Contemporary peace support operation in relation to children
  • Factors that influence child development and behaviour
  • Child rights and protection in situations of armed conflict
  • Factors that influence child development and behaviour
  • Monitoring and reporting on the situation of children in armed conflict
  • Engaging in dialogue with parties in conflict
  • Advocacy- children in armed conflict
  • Communication and collaboration between and among stakeholders

Save the Children International through the project titled “African Union in peace support operations in East and West Africa” has been working towards the creation of a standardized child protection course and facilitator’s manual. Through the course, the organization aims to contribute to the protection of children in peace support operation by training and sensitizing the police, military and civilian on the need to incorporate child rights and protection in peace operations.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Coll Jill Rutaremara, director of RPA emphasized on the need to give special care to children as children rights are human rights. He further noted the importance in contributing to understanding the vulnerability of children and urged the participants to advocate for the mainstreaming of children rights in their organizations and country policies.

Article contributed by Evelyn Namvua, Save the Children International, East Africa Regional Office

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