Conflict and consequences in Uganda


Map UgandaDuration of the conflict
21 years

Nature of the conflict
Conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government and its armed forces (UPDF). 

Humanitarian aspects
Human Development Index 20071: 154 (2006: 145) After several failed attempts, the LRA and the Ugandan government started peace talks in 2006. This has led to an improvement of the humanitarian situation in the North. In the period ending in September, more than half of the 1.8 million internal refugees from Northern Uganda had left their camps. Half a million of these have returned to their homes; the other 400,000 have taken the first steps toward doing the same. They are at new sites or satellite camps

Child soldiers
No exact data is available. One study2 estimates that since 1986, between 24,000 and 38,000 children have been kidnapped (Formerly Abducted Children - FACs). Another report3 claims that the number of child soldiers aged 14 to 30 is 66,000. The number of child soldiers in the Ugandan government army is unknown. The government says there are none at present. 

Country's current phase
It is expected that 35% of the remaining internal refugees will return to their homes in 2008, whereas 45% will still be on the move and 20% remain in the camps (VN CAP 2008)4. Moreover, the floods that hit the country in the second half of 2007 have had a devastating effect. Humanitarian aid workers also provided help to approximately 300,000 refugees from Congo, Sudan and Kenya.

Problems

In 2006, peace talks led to a relatively peaceful situation in the country. Yet no peace treaty has been signed. Early in 2007, large numbers of people started to move away from the overcrowded major camps and into smaller camps (satellite camps) or back to their villages.

This movement has created a number of new problems:

  • Some forms of assistance, such as food distribution, are no longer provided or are done so to a lesser extent; 
  • Children were separated from their parents: parents return to their villages to start the rebuilding process, but leave their children behind in the refugee camps because living conditions are better there; 
  • The return to the villages causes all sorts of new psychosocial problems; 
  • The support offered by the government to help people to return to their villages is insufficient; 
  • It is expected that problems related to landownership will become a major concern once people have returned to their homes, causing considerable unrest.


The living conditions in the major refugee camps and in the areas to which people return are harsh. Food, health, drinking water and sanitary facilities are practically unavailable. Education, opportunities to be self-supporting, security and protection, social structures and cultural values are still underdeveloped.


Children
In Uganda children and youth are very vulnerable. Many are victims of abduction and recurring violence (abuse and violence, exploitation and neglect) and have (had) no, or limited, access to education and health facilities.

Children in armed groups
War Child works with former child soldiers (or Formerly Abducted Children - FAC's), children and youth that were abducted by the LRA. It continues to be extremely difficult for them to reintegrate into their original communities. War Child does not organise special activities exclusively for this group but integrates them into its current activities. That is why there is no separate registration for formerly abducted children and their exact numbers are unknown.

In 2006, War Child started a project to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers. The project ended in September 2007 (see Evaluation).

1 Human Development Index 2007: This United Nations index is a classification of countries based on their level of development (in terms of poverty, illiteracy, education, and life expectancy).
2 Abducted. The Lord’s Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda. Juni 2007. Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations. Human Rights Center, Berkeley University & Payson Center for International Development, Tulane University.
3 The State of Youth and Youth Protection in Northern Uganda, Findings from the Survey for War Affected Youth. Annan, Blattman & Roger, september 2006.
4 Consolidated Appeals Process, an overview presented by the UN of all wants of a particular county, to help aid organisations provide the support that is most needed.

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Programme Development Advisor Ernst Suur in Uganda

War Child’s Ernst Suur sees communities in Northern Uganda slowly recovering: “If everybody helps, something beautiful will grow.”

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