Land or Else: Land-based conflict, vulnerability, and disintegration in Northern Uganda
In August 2009, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), commenced a joint study on land and reintegration in northern Uganda. This study is intended to be a first-step towards an evidentiary approach to understanding land issues in northern Uganda.
Northern Uganda is the scene of one of the world's most volatile and spontaneous processes of reintegration. There are approximately 1.1 to 1.4 million people in the Acholi sub-region at the time of writing; 295,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) remain displaced either in IDP camps or transit sites. Approximately 800,000 Acholis have already left the camps and spontaneously returned home over the last three years. Within this massive return movement, there are over 32,000 former LRA combatants who defected, escaped, were captured, or simply auto-demobilised back into Acholi civil society. Almost none of these ex-combatants have been incorporated into any structured attempt to help them and their communities socially and economically reintegrate. No reintegration programmes exist in the Acholi sub-region to deal with vulnerable sub-groups within this massive cohort of ex-combatants and young people who have been exposed to sustained levels of trauma and personalized forms of violence (whether as victims or perpetrators). In the absence of meaningful action to address land-based conflict and reintegration in the Acholi sub-region, it by default comes down to the resilience and wisdom of individuals and communities to spontaneously help returning IDPs, ex-combatants, and vulnerable young people to fit in as best they can. One thing above all draws Acholis back home; their land.
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