A draft report on the Ugandan civil war is completely ‘underwhelming.’

By February 8, 2005

Uganda (MNN)–A U-S State Department’s report analyzing their 18-year civil war doesn’t do enough.

It does indicate that up to 12,000 people have been killed in hostile action during a war in Northern Uganda and many more have died from hunger, disease and malnutrition resulting from the conflict.

A horrible by-product of this war has been the increase in the number of children abducted and pressed into military service by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The rebels began their uprising against the central government in 1987. The study notes that LRA attacks had displaced nearly 95 percent of the ethnic Acholi population in three districts of Northern Uganda by the end of 2004.

World Vision’s Rory Anderson says while the study raises awareness of the problems, it lacks any useful pro-active solutions. “In our minds, a conflict that has been raging for 18 years, where more than 20-thousand children have been abducted to be forced to become child soldiers and sex slaves, requires more than just a reiteration of the status quo, but instead, laying out solutions and cutting edge vision for both ending the war and rebuilding Uganda.”

It’s a complex situation requiring an in-depth look, rather than a summary of the situation. Many questions remain over the generations lost to the war, not all of them to death.

The stories of child soldiers, some as young as 7-years old, are mind-boggling. The question of how they can ever serve as a productive member of a non-warring society comes into play.

Rehabilitation like that requires intensive psychiatric counseling, education, vocational skills training. The commitment for those involved in that work demands a long term of service.

But, for the last ten years, World Vision has had a ‘Children of War Rehabilitation Center’ in Gulu where they help child soldiers re-orient to society. While lost innocence can never be reclaimed, Anderson says, “There is a lot of hope, and a lot of this hope lies in the fact that at the center of our ministry, is prayer and really demonstrating to these children, the love of God, and that the hope, even thought they’ve done these horrible atrocities, that God still loves them and that they can still be a vessel of His to bless His people in northern Uganda.”

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