Much has been written about the short-term challenges facing children returning ‘home’ from rebel fighting groups, but little is known about the longer term day to day realities of return. Support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants following protracted war and conflict occurs in the expectation that it will promote peace, national reconciliation and economic development. Much of the research focuses on the social, psychological and economic challenges facing former recruits at the time of return, or soon afterwards. Only a few studies have attempted to document longer-term experiences.

This article presents findings from the first long-term assessment of the social and economic challenges facing an officially registered group of children who passed through an internationally-financed reception centre after a period of time with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).