More Stories from Northern Uganda
"The war that has raged for 20 years in Northern Uganda has left its people battered and bruised, tormented, by grief, despair and fear. Innocent Civilians have been killed and mutilated. Thousands have been abducted, tortured and sexually abused.
Many have been forced to commit atrocities or to look on, helpless, as others are beaten, raped or murdered. Abducted Children are forced to work as laborers, Soldiers or sex slaves.
More than 1.6 Million people have been forced to leave their homes and are living in 249 IDP Camps. Deprived of their means of livelihood, once proud farmers and their families now depend entirely on the food they receive in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP). Many people have little or no access to proper medical care. The Hiv/AIDs are rampant with the communities due to over congestion in the camp because people were idol having nothing to keep them busy girls restorted to sexual activities and early marriages. The spread of Hiv/AIDS is very high among the communities and people living with Hiv/AIDs are also very many.this killer disease has left very many Hiv/AIDs orphans and volunariable children in the communities.
Education has been disrupted. Many Children do not sleep at home for fear of being abducted. Instead, they walk kilometers at the end of each day from their villages to the relative safety of towns, where they spend nights in public buildings and established Children Centres.
Since 1986, Northern Uganda has been racked by insurgencies, which have left ten of thousands of innocent civilians dead, villages completely burnt down, properties destroyed, and it is estimated that the LRA rebels have abducted more than 10,000 children between June 2002 and October 2003, up from 101 from 2001. This brought the total number abducted by the LRA rebels since the start of the conflict to more than 20,000."
The young children ages 5-16 move daily from villages of 1-17Km every evening to town to find secure shelter to avoid LRA rebel abductions. They do this every evening, and return home in the morning. Since the Northern Uganda Conflict be fun 19 years ago 20,000 children have been abducted and thousands killed or died in rebel captivity. Boys are turned into rebel child soldiers and girls sex slaves or wives." During the past years, more than thirty thousand children, aged 5 and over, were abducted from their houses and schools by armed rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The abductions often go hand in hand with cruelties. Children that are crying for their parents, have to watch how their father or mother is beaten to death or burnt alive. Some are forced to kill their own parents. The abducted children are tied together with ropes and forced to carry heavy loads on their heads – bags of sugar, cases of soda or ammunition. They have to walk for hours and days at an inhuman pace. Children that cannot keep up or have swollen feet, are beaten to death while they’re on the road: the rebels do not have permanent camps in Uganda, so they cannot imprison the children anywhere. Letting them live would mean that the children can pass on information to the government army.
Children trying to escape are butchered in front of the other children. They are stabbed to death with knives, kicked or beaten to death with sticks, machetes, axes, rakes or stones. A few children are selected to execute these murders. This ritual is performed to turn the abducted children into accessories and to put them off. ‘This destiny awaits every one of you who tries to escape’, the commanders warn.
Most children end up in one of the LRA camps in Sudan, where they are trained to be soldiers. They learn how to march, to take apart and reassemble guns, to shoot and they are taught combat techniques. Children that escape the rebel army testify that they also learned how to lay mines and how to handle arms with which they could take down air planes and blow up tanks. Even the youngest ones know the names of very sophisticated and heavy weapons: SMG, LMG, RPG, B10, SAM and SPG9. The ‘intelligent’ children get additional training in espionage, communication and gathering information by the Sudanese government army in Juba.
After that, the children are sent to battle. They have to fight the Ugandan government army. In the past, they were also used by the Sudanese government to fight the rebels in Southern Sudan, the SPLA. The children are positioned in the frontline. They are not allowed to take cover and are ordered to keep on shooting. The ones that take cover or run away from battle, risk a bullet from their own commander. The children believe that rubbing oils and talismans will protect them from bullets. In every fight children are killed.
In addition to fighting, the children also have to ransack villages, steal food and abduct other children. People that resist or are suspected of sympathizing with the government, are brutally killed. They are beheaded, burnt alive or mutilated by cutting off lips, ears or legs. The abducted children have to take part in these mass murders, sometimes on their own fellow-villagers. Some of our sponsored children told us they had to rub their bodies with the brains of their victim or sit on the body and eat their food with the victim’s blood on their hands. The purpose is to bind the children to the rebel army for good by making them believe they would never be able to go back home, where the revenge of the population and the government army awaits them.
The LRA children are exposed to the worst possible deprivations. They are permanently starving and thirsty. Mortality because of malnutrition and dehydration is high, particularly in Sudan. Many survived by drinking their own urine or by eating leaves, roots and insects, which gave them diarrhoea. Others died of cholera, which struck the camps regularly, and malaria.
Thirty percent of the abducted children are girls. From the age of twelve, they are given to the commanders as wives, or rather sex slaves. They are systematically raped with the intention of making them pregnant. Over two thousand children were born in the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony considers them to be the only, pure ‘Acholi’ and the new generation of child soldiers. His ultimate goal is to make his children’s army so large and strong that, one day, it will be able to overthrow the government.
THE SAD STORIES OF CHILDREN
Janet 18 years
I was going home in the evening when I met rebels. They abducted me and walked for two weeks to Jebilen in the Sudan. Many Children Died of cold in the mountains, there was nothing to eat and there were heavy rains all the way. But we were given food when we arrived. I found many people, about four brigades. We used to speak in Acholi and Arabic. We would pray like in a Church and Kony (rebel leader) would also attend, and also sometimes lead the prayers himself. We left Jebilen and transferred to Rubanga Tek in 2002. Then when the soldiers followed us, we went up to the Imatong Hills. The last year when we were sent to collect firewood, I escaped with my baby and stayed in southern sudan for six months and richard returned us to Uganda.i am at the orphanage with my kid but shelter is the main problem,food,drugs which he is just struggling to make us survive.i new Richard some time from LRA but was so good from the bush.i am happy that he is still keeping me with other kids.there are many kids who need to go to school but he has no fees for the kids.the orphanage doesnot have any sponsors yet event the food that we eat he growths them for feeding us.please pray for us and the orphanage to get some sponsors so that we can go back to school and have bright future.
We were taken to Lango, then to River Agago in Gulu then Kitgum. Many times we were hungry and would eat only leaves and roots. We were beaten many times for no cause.some time they rebelscould tell us not to sleep so when they get you sleeping,you are beaten with hot panga.one of the kids who was abducted from padibe was killed by commander because he was coughing and they said he mighty make the soldiers to know where they are.
One day fighting started when we were near Kitgum. The army had attacked, I was shot in the leg and could not run. The army found me there and they took me to hospital for treatment.after I got some treatment for some weeks I met Richard at the hospital who prayed for me and asked me a lot of questions.i told him I come from katakwi district.he tool me to the orphanage and I meet very many whom I new.i thanks God for saving my life. My Problem is now I need to go back to school but the orphanage cannot support our education because of no funds that come in to support the children.
I am Onen can Erick ,i was abducted while still at primary school
After 14 years, I found bush life unfavourable. But escape from Kony is risky. I left with 35 combatants. We sneaked into Uganda. We wrote to the local authorities, but as we waited the government troops attacked us. I was angered by the betrayal.
The rest of my combatants have returned to their villages. But I am bitter. I came out of the bush hoping for a better life. I have no house, no property to begin life with. The resettlement package is ridiculous. Bush life seems bad to most people but I know what privileges the bush offers. If the status quo is not reversed, even those who have surrendered will return to the bush.
What I have seen is that the talk of peace in Uganda is empty talk. It is pure politicing. The spirit of those who framed the Amnesty Act and Commission is not the spirit of its implementation. The government has the resources and can be helped out by donors. Redress can best be through trustworthiness.I wan to go back to school and study to become and engineer.
I am Akena felix ,I was abducted by the LRA in 1999
First they abducted my brother, then swooped again that evening on our village and snatched several of us. That was in 1999. I was in P.3.
Life was hard. We started plundering villages for foodstock. When the stock got exhausted before another raid, we picked wild leaves, boiled them and drank for the day’s meal.
I thought of my loving mother back home. I was her last born son and feared dying without seeing her. I risked escape. More people could escape but many of them fear they may not reach home. The women are told that escape means being captured by the Arabs as sex slaves. The captives also fear the hostile armed Dinka tribesmen. If the Ugandan and Sudanese governments could persuade the Dinka to receive the runaway captives, most combatants would have escaped.
As for me, I need basic physical necessities like housing and beddings. I still fear the rebels left in the bush. I just want to go back home and see what has become of it in my long absence. I want to study and become health inspector.
I am Mary, I was capture and imprisonment by the LRA
The rebels yanked us out of sleep and ordered us out.
[They] released Mother and our seven year-old brother since several of her children had been abducted. At Jabelein I was given to Kony. Because I hoped to return to school one day, I acted the mad and AIDS-infected girl. I wanted to avoid pregnancy because once you have delivered there’s no escape. mary Kony did not accept me into his household. [Kony’s lieutenant] was directed to deploy me in the hospital since I was educated. But I didn’t know anything to do with syringes, midwifery, etc. I got introductory training and learnt the rest from a big medical handbook.
On April 20, 2004, out of the five of our family, two of us managed to escape. But I was to return to a home without parents. Mother returned from captivity heart broken and her chest grew weak from gun butting. She wasted away and died. Father remained on our trail until we crossed into Sudan. He trudged back home weakened and heart broken. He didn’t live for long.i want to study and become a nurse.
I was abducted in 1995,I am Christine, my father and my uncle, were all abducted by the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.when I was only twelve years old. We were taken to the neighbouring country Sudan, a foot march that brought me several hundred kilometres from my village. On the way, my father was beaten unconscious, because he could not follow.i Finally, he succumbed to his injuries. i was forced to beat my own father to death, simply because he had swollen legs.
In Sudan i received a three-day military training. Afterwards, i went to battle. i saw many of my partners in misfortune being killed in battle or dying of hunger and thirst. In Sudan, i was given as a ‘wife’ to one of the commanders, who raped me for years.
In 1999, Christine was sent back to Uganda with a group of rebels to raid villages and to abduct children. I also had to murder and to mutilate citizens by cutting off ears and lips. During a fight with the government army I managed to escape, but I had to shoot one of my bodyguards. The other bodyguard returned fire. The bullet ricocheted off my head. I managed to reach a camp where many injuries were tended to. i was taken to the rehabilitation centre, where a nurse said she was pregnant. I tried to kill the baby and myself with an overdose of tablets. But the attempt failed. At the age of 16, I gave birth to a girl. I moved in with her mother and tried to make a living as a seamstress. But nobody wanted clothes from a ‘rebel’. Every night, i went to the forest with my baby, for fear of the rebels. Because the child was constantly ill, I brought my baby back to the rehabilitation centre.
At the centre, people told me about the "Childsoldiers" sponsoring programme. Since then, I had been going back to school. The NGO pays for me and my daughter’s studies. In the future, I wants to become a doctor.
I am Boniface and my brother we were abducted from church on 11th March 1999. I was only 5. When my brother tried to escape, he was axed down before my eyes.
I was taken to neighbouring country Sudan, where I stayed for more than a year. i was given a number of "chores", like fetching water, gathering firewood and growing crops. i also had to participate in looting and even combat.
I was hungry and thirsty all the time. I had to survive on leaves and urine for a while. One day i was sent back to Uganda to fight the army. During a government army ambush I managed to escape. When i reached my home village I learned that my father had died. A few months later the rebels attacked my village again. In retaliation for my escape the rebels brutally killed my mother.
Joe , I was abducted on New Year’s day in 2001. I was 13 at the time. During that night, the rebels raided my house, beat me up and tied me. They took me and my father into the bush, where they also tied up my father. They threw my father on the ground and ordered me to beat him father to death. I started crying and said i could not kill my own father. So, the rebels untied my father and ordered him to kill me the son. I had no other choice than to beat my father to death with a log of wood.
i was taken on long foot marches. I was forced to carry heavy loads. Children that were exhausted or tried to escape were killed with sticks and machetes, stabbed to death or shot. The other children had to participate in these murders. Even i was forced to kill three children (two girls and a boy).
Later, i received military training in one rebel camps near Uganda boarder. i learned how to march, shoot and attack. Afterwards, i was sent to loot villages, abduct other children and set houses on fire, sometimes with the inhabitants still inside. Once, they were under fire by the government army but i remained miraculously unhurt.
After four months, I was taken to the neighbouring country Sudan. Over there, i had to attack villages and loot food. Consequently, there were a lot of confrontations with the SPLA, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. There is a lot of famine in Sudan. i had to eat leaves and drink urine to survive. Many children died of diarrhoea and cholera.
In April 2004, our camp was attacked by the Ugandan government army. we fled back to Uganda, where they were on the move for months and left a trail of destruction.
I am Opio was 12, i was abducted by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army. my duty was to stand guard. i had to keep watch continuously to see whether the government army was approaching.
One day, when i was standing guard in a tree, i had to go to the toilet. i climbed out of the tree and squatted on the grass. The rebels accused me of trying to escape. i was taken to the camp, where the commander decided that i had to be killed, as an example to the others.The rebels hit me three times on the back of my head with an axe and left me for dead. Because it started raining that night, i regained consciousness.i ran away while blood was covering my eyes. Some time later, i lost consciousness again.
The next morning, the rebels found me in a different place than where they had left me for dead. ‘Someone whose brains are exposed, can’t possibly still be alive’, they judged. They thought him to be a little sorcerer and were too frightened to kill him.
i was dragged back to the camp, where rebels gave him a little bit of water and food. They were very surprised to see me drank and ate. They left me without any medical care. When my wounds were fly infected and smelling of pus, they had to move me out of smelling distance.
After three weeks, the government army attacked the camp. i was found by a soldier and was brought to hospital, where i stayed for a year. The Ugandan press called me ‘the boy who would not die’. Early in 2004, Unfortunately, Walter died of head cancer on 7th March 2005. He was only 17.