Preliminary analysis: Reporter profiling from the Amnesty Commission of Uganda
This preliminary analysis was performed during 3-6 October 2008 as part of the Amnesty Commission and IOM's Information Counseling and Referral Service (ICRS) using the entire Amnesty Commission reporter sample from 1 January 2003 until 22 August 2008 or 18,042 people. The purpose of this preliminary analysis is to develop a profile of reporters in order to provide the Amnesty Commission and other important stakeholders to the amnesty process in Uganda with a more detailed picture of the potential vulnerabilities experienced by reporters in Uganda.
Reporters have conflict-related vulnerabilities that can represent serious conflict pressures. As a result, the sustainable reintegration and recovery of reporters, both those with actual combat experience and their support networks, depends on the availability of realistic opportunities for social reintegration and economic recovery.
Vulnerabilities may take the form of lack of trust and confidence in the state, poor access to employment and basic services, social dislocation, and trauma as the result of injury, abduction, and participation in deadly conflict.
The Amnesty Commission's ICRS database has 22,930 reporters spanning the commencement of the Amnesty Act in 2000 until 22 August 2008, however due to changes made to the survey tools in 2002, the 2003-2008 sample was selected for analysis. In order to explore analytical linkages between the multiple variables and values recorded by the database, this preliminary analysis is disaggregated by age, gender, geographical location, and membership of a particular armed group (viz. Allied Democratic Forces, Lord's Resistance Army, and West Nile Bank Front).
Significant work was done in order to pinpoint the Amnesty Commission's ICRS database strengths and weaknesses before subjecting it to analysis, but this work is exactly what it says, preliminary and will be followed up with more rigorous analysis in 2009. Efforts are already underway in order to broadly socialize this preliminary analysis in close cooperation with the Amnesty Commission.
Besides from disaggregating data by age, gender, and geography, this preliminary analysis distinguishes the three main armed rebel groups in Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF), and the Allied democratic Forces (ADF) from other groups. If tailored assistance is not provided to these rebel groups in order to address the needs of the different reporter groupings, reintegration efforts may do little to facilitate the successful transition of these people within society and, at worst, may be counter-productive for the ongoing amnesty process. This is especially true in Uganda where targeted socio-economic reintegration has not effectively taken place.
The spoiler potential represented by high densities of reporters can undermine humanitarian and peace-building efforts in Uganda and should be carefully considered. The Government of Uganda has experienced the twin pressures of conflict and massively displaced populations of refugees and IDPs drawing heavily on limited public resources. The success of the amnesty process will depend on complimentary and oftentimes stop-gap peace-building and reintegration approaches by external actors until local civil society and government can fully support reintegration and recovery processes without external assistance.
Oftentimes reinsertion and reintegration focuses too heavily on the ex-combatant or in the case of Uganda a reporter or formerly abducted person. It cannot be overstated that the most culturally-charged and difficult part of the DDR process is reintegration. Sadly, reintegration some eight years into Uganda's amnesty process is still being treated as a reinsertion exercise. Given the ever-present displacement challenges in Uganda, any approach that focuses on quick fixes entirely miss the point of reintegration - enhancing stability in Uganda and the broader region.
Reinsertion and reintegration is a term almost exclusively used for reporters. In light of the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda, this must change because reporters and other vulnerable groups (eg. internally-displaced persons and returnees) must be reintegrated into a larger whole; firstly into their communities, and secondly, through their communities, into the Ugandan state. Damaged trust and confidence are distinct obstacles to reporter and community reintegration. If the resulting recovery obstacles are not addressed, grievances will be manipulated by political elites and possibly threaten the emergence of any fragile peace that forms at the community level.
The conflict-carrying capacities of reporters and their communities - feelings of inequity, distrust, disillusionment, or frustration at limited livelihood opportunities - can easily metastasize and cause a relapse into conflict. At this transitional stage in the amnesty process, external support needs to be much more targeted. The analyses and findings in this report are meant to provoke a more informed debate on the specific vulnerabilities and gaps in assistance to reporters, and how we can more effectively target recovery and transitional assistance.
Therefore, and until such time as the technical capacities of government and civil society actors are strengthened and able to support sustainable local reintegration and recovery processes, it is not fair to assume that standard government budgeting and planning processes will be able to do so on its own. This is the central argument for external actors continuing to play a role in addressing the gaps in recovery assistance in Uganda.
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