Uganda: Government Miserably Failing in Care of Victims of Conflict

For Immediate Release

Uganda: Government Miserably Failing in Care of Victims of Conflict

LONDON - Hundreds of thousands of men, women and
children who suffered abuses during the 20-year conflict in Northern
Uganda remain destitute and physically and mentally traumatized due to
the government's failure to put in place a comprehensive reparations
programme, Amnesty International said today.  

The organization released a comprehensive report examining the
continued suffering of the victims of northern Uganda's brutal
conflict, and making recommendations to the government on how to deal
with the aftermath of the human rights violations that took place

Thousands were killed, abducted, raped or beaten by the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) during the conflict.  Human rights violations,
including unlawful killings, sexual violence and torture were also
committed by government forces. There was general impunity for soldiers
who committed human rights violations against civilians, and about 1.8
million people were displaced from their homes.

"Thousands of Ugandans still bear the physical and mental scars of
the abuses they suffered," said Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty International's
Uganda specialist. "They are unable to go forward with their lives.
They desperately need government assistance to help them come to terms
with the ordeals they survived and rebuild their lives - assistance
that sadly has not been forthcoming."

In September 2007, the Ugandan government unveiled a three-year
Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) - but this plan does not
specifically address the reparation needs of the victims of the

The agreements signed between the government and the LRA under the
peace process attempt to lay a framework for reparations, but fall far
short of a comprehensive reparations programme and contain significant
flaws - including a lack of provision for consultation with victims. It
also remains unclear if and when the government will implement these

"What is needed is an effective programme that is victim-focused and
a comprehensive reparations programme that addresses the continued
suffering of victims of human rights violations," said Godfrey Odongo.

"Survivors need medical attention, counselling and psychological
support. Formerly abducted children need access to education. Families
need compensation for the deaths and injuries that occurred,
restitution for their destroyed land and property, an apology for the
violations and proper reburials for their loved ones. The government
needs to start acting on these needs  now," said Godfrey Odongo.
In its report, Amnesty International highlights the plight of:
women and girls who were victims of sexual violence. One 18 year old
from Pader district, abducted by LRA forces, told Amnesty
International: "I dream about my forced marriage and the people I was
made to kill and others who were killed during our time with the LRA.
Because of my experience, I sometimes find myself shouting
young men and boys forced to become soldiers. A 20-year old from Amuru
district has dropped out of school because his "level of concentration
in class was almost nil as a result of regular flashbacks and memory of
the terrible things I was made to do, including the forceful
participation in the beating of my dad and the killing of other
abducted people. When I think of these things I find myself losing my
sense of being normal."
people unable to recover because of lack of access to money and medical
care. A 26-year old from Pader district who returned to her community
after ten years held captive by the LRA told Amnesty International:
"There is still a (bomb) splinter inside my right leg. I have endured
terrible pain for the last three years...I don't know whether I can
access medical treatment. I also doubt if I will have the money to pay
for it...As it is, the only thing I do is to occasionally clean the wound
by myself."

The conflict in northern Uganda between Government of Uganda (GoU)
armed forces and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) lasted over two
decades from 1986. There has been a lull in the conflict since the
start of a peace process in 2006.



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