CTO (Centre de Transit et d’Orientation), Transit and Orientation Center for children demobilised from armed forces and groups - Center For Ex-Child soldiers

1. Informing and training FARDC military officers (or commanders of armed groups) on the rights and protection of children affected by armed conflicts

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and BVES have worked together to train and raise awareness amongst the military regarding children’s rights and protection, with a particular focus on DDR (their Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration). These same training programs have also been organised to educate sectors of civil society.

2. Negotiating with militia and armed groups for the liberation of children

Once awareness and training have been completed, BVES engages in long and hard negotiations with military leaders in order to free child soldiers.

The term EAFGA – (Enfants Associés aux Forces et Groupes Armés) Children Associated to Armed Forces and Groups – is used to describe every person aged 18 years or younger who currently is or in the past has been recruited or used in armed forces or groups. This includes children, both boys and girls, used as combatants, transporters, cooks, messengers, spies or exploited for sexual purposes.

This work involves the close cooperation of BVES with the UEPNDDR (Implementing unit of the national programme for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, formerly CONADER), the child protection sector of MONUSCO and UNICEF.

3. Welcome and Support of ESFGA’s at the CTO (Transit and Orientation Center)

ESFGA (Enfants Sortis des Forces et Groupes Armés) – Children released from Armed Forces and groups - is a term used to describe children who have subsequently been freed from or left their military role, and are EAFGA’s that have been both verified and certified. These children have been guided towards the CTO were they are warmly welcomed (girls and boys are kept separate) and receive varied humanitarian assistance.

They benefit from a medical check and psychosocial care to help them through the trauma suffered. This is in addition to re-educating them at whatever level necessary, bearing in mind that some may never have gone to school. They may also enjoy guidance regarding their future: The children might be directed towards full or vocational education, as well as professional apprenticeships, their respective path will be chosen based on whatever is more appropriate. They will also be aided in their own personal development through specific projects with the help of our social workers.

Their stay lasts for approximately 3 months. This is the minimum time necessary in order to help the supervised transition from a militant to civilian and to reintegrate children within families. This time is also needed by BVES and his partners to perform family and community research and mediation in order to reunite and reintegrate children. An official certificate of discharge from military officer is also provided.

The main objectives of the CTO:

  • To ensure the physical and psychological rehabilitation of demobilised child soldiers
  • To facilitate reintegration into family and community
  • To protect the children against all forms of re-recruitment

In order to achieve this, an educational program is implemented day and night by social workers and policy makers involving many activities, both creative and recreational. The children participate in activities themed on HIV and AIDS, human rights, peaceful cohabitation, good values, development, prevention of reenlistment after being reintegrated into families and the community, etc.

4. Family and Community reunification

Generally speaking, family reunification is the preferred solution above any other, when the conditions of the child, family and environment (in terms of security and community) are permitting it. Amongst the different solutions of reintegration, priority is given to reunification of the children with their immediate or extended family as soon as possible. Where this is impossible, the children are directed toward the FJA (Foyer pour les Jeunes Autonomes – Youths homes) and BVES follows up on them.

In order to prepare the children before sending them back to their families, they are given material aid (clothes, shoes, etc.). The process of family reintegration is made official with a ceremony, and this helps to fight against the re-recruitment of the demobilised child soldiers.

5. Monitoring and Support of community-based economical reintegration of ESFGA’s that are reunified with their families

After the reunification of a child with his or her family, BVES begins to monitor and make monthly visits to evaluate the state of affairs, the evolution of its project, and to facilitate an alternative reorientation for the child if necessary.

Demobilised child soldiers may choose to return to school or to learn an income-earning profession at the heart of their respective communities. BVES provides financial and material aid to each of these child reinsertion projects.

6. Prevention of recruitment or re-recruitment

In addition to the educational rehabilitation of at-risk children (displaced, homeless, or those without any parent or guardian), BVES also creates and coordinates nucleic communities for the protection of child rights. Frequent correspondences regarding the protection of children are organised by BVES field officers and Children protection community officers with FARDC officers and officers of other armed groups.

CT-ENA (Centre de Transit pour les Enfants Non Accompagnés), Transit Center for children without guardian - Center for the protection of small children and girls separated from their families because of war

During the negotiation with armed forces and groups for the freedom of child soldiers, other categories of children are also taken in by BVES, such as the ENA’s (Children without guardian). Sometimes these are the children of armed forces, captured by the FARDC during the course of combat and found in prison.

These children are placed in the CT-ENA, Transit center for children without guardian or involuntarily separated from their families as a result of war. There, they have access to various services and are helped in being reunited with their families. 

CRS (Centre de Rattrapage scolaire), Centers of educational rehabilitation

BVES also consists of 29 centers for educational rehabilitation, created within communities that have fallen prey to the instability in South-Kivu. These are education centers for the benefit of at-risk children (displaced children, street children, orphaned children, etc.).

They provide a certificate of primary education after a period of 3 years. These structures are in place help to prevent the violation of children’s rights (recruitment by armed forces or groups, sexual exploitation etc.), but they also serve as a means of recuperation and reintegration of thousands of children who have been affected by poverty and armed conflict.


CDPDE (Centre de Documentation et de Plaidoyer pour les Droits des Enfants), Documentation and Advocacy Center for Children’s Rights

This center aims to create a live and interactive library where activity leaders, youths, children or others that are interested in the subject of children’s rights may come here to research and spark critical debates on the matter of these rights in the DRC. At present, the center is looking for book donations. A meeting room is in the process of being fitted out and already receives many visitors each month.

CPDJF (Centre pour la Protection des Droits de la Jeune Fille), Center for the Protection of Young Women’s Rights

This center promotes women’s rights from a very young age. It offers important services to young girls such as humanitarian assistance, education, medical aid and advices. The girls who have fallen victim to forced prostitution, rape, sexual violence and exploitation within armed forces and groups are welcomed there to find solutions about reintegration into the community.

CPDEDR (Centre pour la Protection des Enfants de la Rue), Center for the protection of street children

Such a phenomena is very prominent in the DRC. BVES uses this transit center to escape from marginality, provide psychological care, in addition to familial and community reintegration. This center also offers guidance on re-educating or offering a professional apprenticeship to these street children.

Community Structures for the protection of children’s rights: Nucleus, Networks, and Committees

In its community-based approach, “the community takes responsibility for the protection of children’s rights”, BVES promote such a scheme that seeks to make the community responsible in guaranteeing their children’s protection, in the more poverty stricken and unstable districts of rural towns and areas.

For more information, please contact us.