Expanding an existing programme to reintegrate young Pakistani boys and teenagers who have been radicalized back into society.
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The war in North West Pakistan, which began with the Pakistan Army’s search for al-Qaeda fighters in 2004 as part of the US-led ‘War on Terror’ has devastated and depleted the country, led to ongoing conflict with militant groups, sparked terrorist attacks – and has made thousands of young people vulnerable to radicalization by violent extremists. Nearly 60,000 civilians and security personnel have been killed in the last few years, many at the hands of children and adolescents. Extreme poverty and exposure to bloodshed feeds into the cycle, particularly amongst disenfranchised or desperate children and teenagers who drop out of school or aren’t educated. In 2009, during the conflict between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban militants in the Swat Valley, 230 boys were apprehended by the Army and taken to Saboon, a deradicalisation centre. Research showed that the boys had been manipulated or brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers or militants on missions to kill. However, children as young as six years old continue to be targeted and recruited. Preventative action can save lives – and transform the futures of these boys, but we need to act now.
Of the 229 children at Saboon since 2009, 180 young men have been reintegrated into society, with no recidivism so far. A significant factor in a child’s radicalization is a lack of critical reasoning and purpose, which is exacerbated through lack of education. So SWAaT for Pakistan created a School Intervention Programme (SIP)– so far established in seven schools – to help prevent exploitation and radicalization. This is done through funding IT labs, libraries and teacher training workshops. The results show nearly 100% attendance by teachers and pupils, as well as significant improvement in grades. SWAaT for Pakistan wants to build on this by:
- Raising funds to sustain and expand its prevention and rehabilitation programmes in schools in Pakistan.
- Establish a support network for SWAaT Pakistan in Europe and the USA.
What help is needed
- Trustees – a set number of Trustees is needed in order to register a charity in the UK and the US. Could you help?
- Funding partners – individuals, foundations and companies willing to help fund an expansion of the School Intervention Programme (SIP). To set up and run SIP at one school for two years costs £45,000. We hope to raise funds for 10 more schools.
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