Henri Bura Ladyi knows how to make disarmament in the DRC work. It’s all about the goats:
He has single-handedly rescued 5 000 people from the clutches of militiamen as they deliberated whether to keep the group as a human shield or massacre them in a show of strength. He has freed scores of kidnapped child soldiers by persuading Mai Mai rebels to exchange them for goats.
It is an approach that has produced results. One of the other rebel colonels at the table, Joel Vahinghene, worked with Henri months ago to secure the release of 100 child soldiers, some as young as six, by trading their freedom for goats.
This unusual ransom idea originated with the rebel chiefs. They were acutely aware that the ranks of child soldiers, who once afforded a battlefield advantage, had become a burden, extra mouths to feed. So they contacted Henri. There was just one snag. Some parents had an animal they could sacrifice,but others couldn’t afford one. Undeterred, Henri went to negotiate, settling on the rate of 10 goats for 40 children. And so 100 children won their freedom between February and April, helped by funds supplied by Peace Direct.
It’s unclear why child soldiers have become a burden, but at a goat-to-child exchange rate of 1:4, who cares!