Research indicates that non-state armed groups of different type dominate or play an active role during and after armed conflict on two folds: First, they are responsible for violence against unarmed civilians and for the establishment of criminal and informal shadow economies. Next to that, non-state armed groups are often the result of socio-economic and political hindrance in post conflict Sierra Leone. Non-state armed groups sometimes serve as a major challenge for peace building and reconciliation in post conflict countries including Sierra Leone, depending on their situation; they may even serve as both spoilers’ and governance actors. The reintegration of ex-combatants in to society is one of the main problems currently confronting Sierra Leone after the eleven years civil war. During the civil war, combatants in general committed serious crime and atrocities against unarmed civilians, including the very ones in their areas of operation and their home communities. The behavior of committing violence created suspicion and total fear about the prospect of ex-combatants trying to rebuild their lives in the various communities. The reintegration process has so many flaws, despite the intervention of external aid. The Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) were targeting ex-combatants with short-term reintegration programs, but due to the limited fund, long-term reintegration is being held back. There are so many concerns regarding the prospects of finding employment for ex-combatants vis-à-vis their current role in consolidating the hard won peace. DDR programs concentrated more on the ex-combatants than their various communities of origin or communities where they committed major atrocities. The above anomaly brought about some criticisms that the past reintegration efforts were not properly carried out for sustainable peace building and development. Ms Beatrice Pouligny, a senior researcher at the Centre d’ e’tudes et de recherches internationals (CERD) in France, argued that an ‘’approach which focuses on ‘individual’ incentives may miss the broader ‘collective’ dimension’’. Ex-combatants ‘’cannot be considered without taking their families and social ties in to account’’. The country is poor, unemployment is a major challenge among the youth population. The issue of unemployed ex-combatants, who have no means of earning their daily bread, are susceptible to recruitment by criminal gangs or future armed factions. DDR program in Sierra Leone excluded combatants who did not hand over weapon, especially women and children. By October 2002, 56,751 out a total of 75,000 ex-combatants including child soldiers registered for reintegration. Out of the above figure 14,220 completed skill training and 19,073 were in on-going training, leaving out a remaining load of 23,458, (DDR report).
For some of the ex-combatants who managed to go through various trainings, such as schooling or vocational training, their future is not assured due to the high level of unemployment in the country. The current attention that has been drawn to these groups, however, is due to the fact that for a successful post-conflict country like Sierra Leone, the engagement with non-state armed groups is an issue of crucial importance for sustainable peace and development.