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David Soler Crespo, Assistant of research of the Navarra Center for International Development of the Institute for Culture and Society

Radio can end violence'.

Desertion messages are an effective method of getting child soldiers in the Central African Republic to lay down their arms and reintegrate into society.

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:58:00 +0000 Published in Planeta Futuro El País

Last Halloween night, when Westerners dress up in scary costumes and children beg for candy on doorsteps, a Central African boy managed to escape from the clutches of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the group led by Joseph Kony. Six days later he walked to the Sam Ouandja area in eastern Central African Republic, reports the LRA Crisis Tracker. Like him, some 100,000 children have been abducted by terrorists, say the UN's data . Little boys no older than 12 are their favorites: not physically strong enough to resist, easily molded and with a long future as soldiers.

The fight against the LRA has succeeded in reducing the issue of fighters, but the group is not dead. It continues to kill. However, the US-backed Ugandan Army announced in April 2017 that it was withdrawing from the fight against the LRA, proclaiming victory. The withdrawal of troops forces other methods to end the armed group . And radio can help.

In 2000, the Ugandan government passed an amnesty law for combatants that few believed in and even fewer embraced. An initiative that promised them freedom and reintegration into society. Convincing these children to lay down their arms is core topic, but many are afraid. They fear reprisals from the government, their community and their family. But how can they be convinced?

Radio transmission has been studied as a method of broadcasting propagandistic messages for political or violent purposes. It was used in the Nazi era, incited ethnic hatred in the Balkans and also in the extermination in Rwanda. However, its possible effects on ending violence have rarely been investigated.

This is explored in the study led by Alex Armand and Joseph Gomes, researchers at the International Center for the development of Navarra (NCID), together with Paul Atwell of the University of Michigan, graduate The Reach of Radio: Ending Civil Conflict through Rebel Demobilization. The research focuses on the effect that radio messaging has had on combatant defections and the strategy employed by the LRA since it began in 2000.

The results show the effectiveness of the ads in reducing violence and the withdrawal of guns. With one hour of broadcasting per day, killings were reduced by 7% and there was an increase in escapes. With the loss of troops, the group loses capacity to act and changes its strategy. Attacks on civilians are reduced, but looting increases. Those fighters in small groups rob and assault in order to survive, but also to demonstrate their power and thus reduce the temptation of desertion among their troops.

Economic incentives are important in convincing young people to lay down their arms and reintegrate into society. Incentives for conflict counterbalance those incentives for desertion. If the value of certain products that encourage conflict, such as gold, increases, the withdrawal of armed struggle is reduced. However, the increased value of cash crops generates opportunities for employment and better wages, which facilitates and increases Withdrawal to arms. The effectiveness of desertion messages varies depending on the incentives they have to fight.

Efforts to annihilate the LRA must be redoubled. Alternative methods, such as the use of radio, are vital in order to bring down the devil from within. Offering an alternative to arms is the first step, but convincing them of a better future is more important. Many of the combatants were 12-year-olds who had no choice but to kill to avoid death. Giving them a second chance away from AK-47s is imperative.