The war ends, the foreign soldiers depart, and some may well be leaving babies behind... Whether the father was friend or foe, the local women to whom these children are born often raise them in difficult circumstances. An EU-funded research project is shedding new light on an age-old phenomenon, with the aim of providing information that could feed into policies to help them.
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Do children born of war integrate into society and if so, how? What do their experiences reveal about their communities perception and recollections of the war? Do authorities or policymakers strive to facilitate their integration? The CHIBOW project is dedicated to the local offspring of armed incomers in a bid to advance understanding of their situation.
Its an issue that has largely been ignored, the partners note. While a number of studies have been carried out, these have not resonated beyond this very specific field, they observe. As a consequence, the outcomes have not fed into the creation of development tools.
CHIBOW is striving to tackle this problem. It is supporting the work of 15 early stage researchers, whom it intends to help hone the skills needed to communicate across sectoral barriers and inform the development of policy that could benefit war-affected children.
Studies within the project explore aspects of up to four main themes: Children, conflict and memory, Children, education and citizenship and Children and community, and an exploration of experiences in a historical context. These headings cover topics as varied as gender-based violence, the construction of memory, and the responses of diaspora communities.
The project is backed by the European Commissions Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme as part of its innovative training network (ITN) scheme, which is designed to help foster a new generation of researchers. Launched in March 2015, CHIBOW involves 12 academic partners from 9 countries, led in this four-year endeavour by the University of Birmingham.