Marie de la Soudière

Specializes in family tracing and reunification, psycho-social reintegration of boys and girls formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

Clinical social worker. International consultant, Protection of Children in Adversity

 Working principally with UNHCR, UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee, the focus of 40 years of work for children in humanitarian settings has been: family tracing and reunification of separated children,  psycho-social reintegration of boys and girls formerly associated with armed forces and groups (“child soldiers”), and helping teachers provide psychosocial support to their students during and after crises.  This work has been carried out in 27 countries, including  16 in  Africa, 7 in Asia, 4 in Europe  and one in the Caribbean.

A few specifics

–  Headed the photo-tracing programme for Cambodian Separated refugee Children at the Thai Cambodian border (1980), and set-up and implemented a similar programme at the Zaire-Rwandan border for 13,000 unaccompanied Rwandan refugee children, which led to the reunification  of all but some 200 of these children with their families (1994-95).

– Participated in elaboration of numerous UN and inter-agency Policies and Guidelines on the response to Separated Children, former Child Soldiers, and what constitute sound Psychosocial Support of children and their carers in humanitarian settings.

– In 1997, set up the International Rescue Committee  (IRC) Unit for Children and Youth in emergency and post-emergency, whose programmes eventually served children in over 20 countries.

– Conducted numerous global as well as country-specific training for the protection of and programming for children in various emergency situations.

– Wrote several training manuals for different settings/countries for the  Protection, Care and Family Tracing of Unaccompanied children,  as well as co-wrote a global one for UNICEF,  “The Lost Ones, Emergency care and family tracing for separated children from birth to five years”;

wrote a children’s book, “Les Ailes de Nidi”, 1995, (translated into Kinyarwanda) to help Unaccompanied Rwandan refugee children in Zaire cope with their lonely and uncertain situation;  Developed a global 5 days TOT Psychosocial Teachers’ Training for UNICEF;   Drafted  two chapters,   “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support” and “Unaccompanied Children”,  for the Gracia Machel       + 10 Strategic Review, Children and Armed Conflict;  drafted the National Guidelines on Emergency Post Disaster Psychosocial Principles and Response for the Ministry of Heath, Kenya.

–   Spearheaded, advised on and monitored the progress of several research – including longitudinal research – on the psychological and social impact on children of having been associated with an armed group;  more recently, conducted several action-oriented field studies with formerly associated girls in various parts of DRCongo and South Sudan, followed  by participatory development of community-oriented Field Guides for the reintegration of these girls.