Uganda: Report - Children Born During War Suffer Rejection, Neglect

Children born during several wars that Uganda experienced from the 1970s face rejection in West Nile sub-region, a new report has said.

Some have been stigmatised and neglected by the community since they were born out of rape cases.

The Refugee Law Project (RLP), in a survey conducted been January 2018 to January this year in Zombo, Arua and Adjumani districts, found out that some of these children were parented by Tanzanian soldiers, who fought to oust the late Idi Amin while others were born during the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion.

The researchers interviewed some of the families that were affected by war.

The programme officer for RLP, Mr Joel Odokonyero, during the launch of the report on Friday, said: "In some parts of the study, we found that women and children are suffering from a lot of stigma, which comes in form of names such as 'the Tanzanian children, Kony, 'Olumolum' which connotes that they are not members of the community."

One of the children, Ms Amina Ayat Gloria, said her mother told her that her father was a UPDF soldier, who fathered her when he was fighting Joseph Kony.

"Up to now, I don't know my father and my mother is sick. My mother only told me that my father is from Mbarara though I have since failed to trace his whereabouts."

Amina broke down in tears as she reflected on the mistreatment that she under goes. Some times her maternal relatives demand that she looks for her father and paternal relatives.

Mr Odokonyero added that from their findings, some of the community members especially the maternal parents declined paying school fees for these children who end up dropping out of school.

The survey noted that in Ogolo North Village in Arinyapi Sub-county in Adjumani District, there are more than 30 children who have been rejected because they were born during the insurgency.

"We found out that children who have grown up from such war-torn areas are denied access to land. If they access, they have no right to own it and they even dont give them a considerable period of time to use the land," he said.

One of the children, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said: "I am being called a Tanzanian and some people in community told me to go back to my father in Tanzania. But I do not know him. Even my mother does not know where my father lives. They call me a foreigner."

The prime minister for Lugbara Kari, Mr Ismail Tuku, urged the communities to show love to these children because it was not their making to be in such circumstances.

"They should not be rejected but instead accepted in our families because we should value life," Mr Tuku beseeched the residents.

LRA insurgency

The LRA insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged by the LRA army group since 1987.

The LRA is accused by the International Criminal Court of widespread human rights violations, including mutilation, torture, slavery, rape, the abduction of civilians and the use of child soldiers.

By 2004, the group had abducted more than 20,000 children.

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