Weekly Update: Uganda

News and Press Release
Originally published
REPORT ON NORTHERN UGANDA - At a brown bag lunch on April 16, Marie de la Soudiere, Director of the IRC's Children in Armed Conflict Program, and Gerald Martone, Director of Emergency Preparedness, reported on their recent visit to Northern Uganda. The purpose of their trip was to assess how the IRC should respond to the needs of children who had suffered unimaginable trauma at the hands of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a local insurgency group that mixes witchcraft with fanatical Christian beliefs. The LRA have kidnapped thousands of children, forcing them on to the battlefield, or to serve as porters and sex slaves. Children as young as seven have been abducted; 20% are young girls.
Approximately 3,700 children have managed to escape and temporary residences have been established where they receive counseling before being returned to their families in villages far away. Because many of these children have been forced to commit horrendous atrocities, they are often not accepted back into their communities and are taunted or rejected. Marie pointed out that the most critical point for these children now is when they return home. During the past several months, 30 children who were returned to their homes have committed suicide. She discussed IRC's plans to work with the community, combining traditional methods for healing and reconciliation with Western knowledge of psychotherapy, to create a support network for the children and their families. We will also assist in a number of large camps for persons displaced by the conflict and provide training for teachers, integrating psycho-social programs into school activities.


Lorna Stevens, Director, Board Liaison and Special Projects