The need for innovative financing to break the recurring recruitment cycles and use of children by armed groups
The reintegration of child soldiers is key to achieving lasting prosperity and peace in conflict-affected societies. Unfortunately, just a small percentage of children exiting these armed elements receive the 3-5 years of support experts say are needed in order to regain their lives in society and thrive.
Immediate and longer-term investments must be made in supporting children and communities to provide urgent humanitarian and development assistance, as well as tackle the root causes of recruitment and re-recruitment to break and mitigate the vicious cycles that expose children to continued violence.
Yearly humanitarian funding for child reintegration has increased by USD 80 million since 2016. Although a positive trend, child reintegration needs are increasing at a much faster pace than current funding.
In fact, humanitarian appeals supporting the umbrella “child protection” list of needs, under which child reintegration traditionally sits, increased by USD 317 million yearly. As such, the gap between growing needs and current levels of funding has grown to a sheer 75 percent funding gap in 2021. Similarly, although there is a continued and projected uptick in child reintegration needs across the countries on the CAAC agenda, available peace funding for child reintegration activities is diminishing and has done steadily so since 2012. Moreover, addressing growing child reintegration needs in isolation is clearly not enough.
Our research has identified nine drivers or root causes of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups. 33 percent of these drivers are projected to be exacerbated by climate change. Interestingly, there is a strong negative correlation between the increasing performance of indicators related to these drivers and the levels of child recruitment and use. These trends are stronger in countries more affected by violence as well as in countries in lower income brackets.
As such, to effectively break the cycles of recruitment and re-recruitment, the international community needs to deliberately target the root causes of these trends, thereby also stemming the increasing humanitarian needs. In turn, this requires more predictable, long-term, and sustainable finance across the humanitarian, development, and peace nexus to provide a continuum of care for these children. It also implies a shift towards more innovative financing instruments beyond humanitarian and peace funding.
Innovative financing sources are all increasing and show high potential through blended financing modalities to address the alarming shortfall in humanitarian financing. Between 2017 and 2021, development, peace, and climate financing have all seen an uptick in available resources (+72, +124, and +4 per cent). These longer-term financing instruments have the potential to provide longer-term sustainable financial sources to plug the increasingly yawning reintegration financing gap while simultaneously tackling the longer-term drivers of child recruitment.
Although several examples exist of partners blending innovative financing resources to bridge the current humanitarian funding gap, much more innovation is needed to close the gap and effectively break the cycles of recruitment and re-recruitment. An event to keep an eye out for this year is the Financing Innovation Forum organised by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG-CAAC) and the World Bank. The forum will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to explore new modalities and mechanisms for innovative financing towards child reintegration.
Date - 12 May - 2023