The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been accused of kidnapping and forcibly recruiting tens of thousands of children. However, a new report condemns the government of Uganda for failing to properly rehabilitate these children after their release or escape.
According to a new report by Amnesty International thousands of former child soldiers “remain destitute and physically and mentally traumatised due to the government’s failure to deal with the conflict’s aftermath”
In particular, the report discusses:
– women and girls who were victims of sexual violence. One 18-year-old from Pader district, abducted by LRA forces, told Amnesty International:‘I dream about my forced marriage and the people I was made to kill and others who were killed during our time with the LRA. Because of my experience, I sometimes find myself shouting uncontrollably.’
– young men and boys forced to become soldiers. A 20-year old from Amuru district dropped out of school because of ‘regular flashbacks and memory of the terrible things I was made to do, including the forceful participation in the beating of my dad and the killing of other abducted people. When I think of these things I find myself losing my sense of being normal’.
– people unable to recover because of lack of access to money and medical care. A 26-year old from Pader district who returned to her community after ten years in LRA captivity told Amnesty: ‘There is still a (bomb) splinter inside my right leg. I have endured terrible pain for the last three years…I don’t know whether I can access medical treatment. I also doubt if I will have the money to pay for it…As it is, the only thing I do is to occasionally clean the wound by myself.’
Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty International’s Uganda specialist, said:
They desperately need government assistance to help them come to terms with the ordeals they survived and rebuild their lives – assistance that sadly has not been forthcoming.