The Regional Lead Trainers Course on Prevention of Recruitment and Use of Children in Armed Violence commenced on Monday, September 25, at Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA) training facility in Nyakinama, Musanze.
The intensive course, jointly organized by the Ministry of Defence, the Rwanda Defence Force, the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace, and Security, and the Rwanda Peace Academy, is slated to run until September 29.
This one-week training program has drawn a cohort of 20 military, police, and civilian personnel hailing from seven African nations, including the DR Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Uganda.
These participants have been selected to undergo this specialized training with the goal of becoming certified trainers, capable of leading Dallaire courses on the prevention of child recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts within their respective institutions and beyond.
The opening ceremony of the event was attended by dignitaries and representatives from various organizations dedicated to child protection and peace.
In his address, Retired Major General Ferdinand Safari, the Director for the Dallaire Institute-African Centre of Excellence, expressed hope for the course's impact, emphasizing the urgent need to address child involvement in conflicts across Africa.
He said: "It is my great hope that the discussions at this regional training will inform conversations going on, on child protection issues and will create synergies between regional participants and Dallaire Institute to better advance the prevention of recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts and violence."
He further noted the increasing demand for experts in addressing child recruitment issues, particularly given the rising conflicts and violence involving children on the African continent.
Safari also acknowledged that there are no simple solutions to these complex challenges, highlighting the importance of productive courses like this one in fostering expertise among participants.
Colonel (Rtd) Jill Rutaremara, the Director of Rwanda Peace Academy, also shared insights into Rwanda's commitment to child protection in armed conflicts. He pointed out that in November 2017, the Government of Rwanda endorsed the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and Prevention of Recruitment and Use of Children in armed conflicts.
In June 2022, the Ministry of Defence and the Dallaire Institute renewed their Memorandum of Understanding.
Rutaremara underscored Rwanda's proactive stance in upholding and safeguarding the rights of children, highlighting collaborative efforts of government institutions, including Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA), and other institutions under the Ministry of Defence and Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).
"It is not by accident therefore, that Rwanda is the right country to host the Dallaire Institute's African Centre of Excellence. This course is a result of a productive partnership between RPA and the Dallaire Institute," he said.