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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

International Rescue Committee Rwanda Programmes

Focus 15: Providing alternative care in emergency situations

Long-term separation between child and family due to conflict creates a number of challenges for family reunification programmes – children placed in institutional care risk becoming institutionalised and ill prepared for community life. Families also change, both as a result of post-conflict circumstances and family reconstitution.

A reintegration and reunification programme for unaccompanied children was developed by the International Rescue Committee Rwanda Programme. Its goal was to reunify/reintegrate children living in unaccompanied children’s centres with families or communities, and to devise national guidelines and implementation strategies. In 1999, the International Rescue Committee’s reunification programme introduced new ways to document and trace ‘untraceable children’ and in 2000, it designed an innovative community-based reunification project for difficult-to-place children. As a result 736 children were reunited / reintegrated into families. Although much smaller than the high numbers achieved in the early years, these numbers are significant because they represent the most difficult cases, which were effectively considered closed after failed attempts to trace or reunify by previous agencies.

For more information visit: www.rescue.org/where/rwanda

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID