Kenya + 2 more

IOM press briefing notes 21 Jan 2003: Kenya/Uganda

News and Press Release
Originally published
Spokesperson: Niurka Piñeiro

KENYA - New Programme to Assist Former Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army - The IOM office in Nairobi has launched a programme to screen, document and register former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who wish to apply for amnesty and return home to Uganda.

IOM is currently working with the Kenyan and Ugandan authorities and with the Ugandan Amnesty Commission to allow former rebels and their dependants to benefit from the Ugandan Amnesty Act, signed in January 2000.

On the first day of the registration, 53 ex-combatants reported to the IOM office in Nairobi.=A0 It is expected that more than 1,000 former rebels will register with IOM in order to benefit from the Government's amnesty. The registration will run until 7 February 2003.

Forty-four years old Wilson Watuma Kuloba is one of the 53 former combatants who have so far registered with IOM.=A0 Wilson fought for 10 years within the ranks of the LRA.=A0 In 1999, he sold his weapons and moved to Kenya with his family.=A0 Wilson says he is pleased to go back to Uganda.=A0 "I come from Mbali, in eastern Uganda and I haven't seen my family for 15 years.=A0 I don't know if my parents are still alive but I hope to find my brothers and sisters."

Upon determination of their status by the Amnesty Commission, bona-fide former combatants will receive IOM's repatriation assistance. Once in Uganda, they will be handed over to the Amnesty Commission and will be eligible to receive rehabilitation, reinsertion and reintegration support provided by IOM, UNICEF and NGOs (World Vision, Gusca and Kichwa).

This US-EU funded programme will allow the return and reintegration of an initial group of 500 ex- LRA rebels from Kenya and from neighbouring Sudan.