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Former LRA Abductees in Lango Accuse Govt of Neglect

Through their umbrella organisation, Lango Youth Former Captives/Returnees Association -LYFCA, the group notes that most of them are in dire need for help, yet government has done little to facilitate their reintegration into the community.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda welcomed by Former Lands Minister, Daniel Omara Atubo at Barlonyo Memorial Site during her recent visit to the war affected area.

Audio 5

Former abductees of the Lord's Resistance Army -LRA in Lango sub-region have appealed to the government not to neglect their efforts to resettle after years of hopelessness in the bush.

Through their umbrella organisation, Lango Youth Former Captives/Returnees Association -LYFCA, the group notes that most of them are in dire need for help, yet government has done little to facilitate their reintegration into the community.

Philips Ogile, a member of the organisation who returned from the bush some 16 years ago accused government of frustrating the resettlement and rehabilitation of the former returnees.

Ogile says programmes such as Peace, Recovery and Development Plan-PRDP which should have directly benefited the ex-abductees have had their concept diverted into structural development which does not directly benefit them.

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Ogile says he is currently hustling with life to make ends meet. He notes that hundreds of formerly abducted youth are jobless yet many still face the challenge of discrimination and stigmatisation in the communities they have resettled.

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Ogile wants government to create a special project for LRA returnees and also establish a separate line ministry strictly in charge of the welfare of those who directly suffered the brunt of the LRA rebellion in northern Uganda.

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Abducted from his home in Barrio in Oyam district in 1998, Ogile returned in 2010 when he escaped from captivity at the time the Uganda government soldiers--UPDF attacked their base.

Zita Odongo Anyango, the LYFCA chairperson supports Ogile's idea of having a line ministry to directly deal with them. Odongo says the Ministry of Northern Uganda which is mandated to handle their affairs has too much responsibilities to shoulder and cannot adequately address their concerns.

She notes that despite being forcefully abducted and conscripted into LRA ranks, government only offered a resettlement package to a handful of beneficiaries.

The group recently petitioned parliament and development partners with demands for better treatment. They argued that many of the ex-captives are poor because they do not have jobs and that they lack the required education to acquire jobs following their prolonged stay under captivity.

John Alonya, the Coordinator Operation Wealth Creation in Lango Sub region says government was committed in ensuring that such category of people was facilitated to improve their livelihoods.

He was handing over more than 20,000 mango and orange citrus seedlings to Children for Peace, a local organisation operating in the region to distribute to more than 100 former LRA abductees in Ogur, Aromo and Agweng sub counties in Lira district.

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Jane Ekoyu, the Executive Director of Children for Peace says the seedlings through Operation Wealth Creation programme will be distributed to the former LRA returnees and those orphaned by the rebellion.

Ekoyu observes the need to fully rehabilitate and facilitate the livelihoods of these people.

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Between 1987 and 2007, Lango sub-region was subject to countless human rights atrocities by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army -LRA which tore apart the fabric of the society.

It is estimated that over 20,000 children were abducted by the LRA, many of whom were forced to commit horrific acts of violence. Around one million people fled their homes and ended up moving to temporary camps for the internally displaced IDPs.

The prolonged period of conflict inevitably led to the deterioration of institutions and basic services. All the challenges related to rebuilding a war-torn region remain, from stabilising the economy and restoring infrastructure to reintegrating LRA escapees and addressing human rights abuses.