Northern Uganda

From Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, and surrounding villages, Uganda seems a beautiful, peaceful country. Yet, only a six hour drive away, the country’s northern region is host to Africa’s longest running conflict.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency began 22 years ago as President Yoweri Museveni took power. Opposed to Museveni’s bloody coup overthrowing Northern-based President Tito Okello, Northern Ugandans were, at first, quick to support the LRA who promised to wage war against the Southern government.

However, the LRA quickly turned against Northern Ugandans. Seeking soldiers and resources, the rebels began terrorizing and plundering villages for food to eat and children to fight.

Over the past 22 years, the LRA has killed and maimed thousands. They have also abducted at least 66,000 children. The Gulu Walk has immortalized the plight of thousands of children – “night commuters” – who used to walk up to 14 km every evening to sleep in the more protected town of Gulu in Northern Uganda, and back the following morning to spend all day working in the fields.

The UPDA, Uganda’s army, has also caused its share of damage: the government moved whole villages into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. A total of 1.5 million people were forced to leave their homes and fields behinds. IDPs have accused the UPDA soldiers patrolling the camps of rape and violence.

The Women of Kireka escaped LRA insurgencies in Kitgum district in 2002. All have lost their husbands to war or to HIV. While Uganda used to boast one of Africa’s lowest HIV rates, displacement and the break-up of normal community structures has contributed to new, soaring rates. In IDP camps, HIV/AIDS has been as high as 16 per cent.

Please read more about the war here.


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