Fights between the LRA rebels and the Ugandan army (United People’s Defence Force – UPDF) began in 1987. Since then, estimates indicate that the LRA has forcedly recruited and enslaved 25.000 children as soldiers and sex slaves. The LRA is responsible for the murder, mutilation, torture and rape of ten thousands of civilians. The region’s infrastructure is, for the most part, in a state of despair: 1.4 million refugees live in the extremely poor conditions in camps for displaced persons without electricity or running water.
After signing a ceasefire agreement in August 2006, the LRA has retreated to East Congo. Nevertheless, peace talks continue to stagnate and up to this day, no peace agreement has been reached. Peace in Northern Uganda remains insufficient. Most former child soldiers were around 10.5 years old when they were abducted and spent up to nine years as soldiers with the rebels. 88% were forced to watch people being murdered and 79% were witness to massacres. Many endured torture, rape and were forced to march for days on end with heavy loads. 53% of them report having killed someone. 43% of the children have lost their parents in the war and are orphans, and many civilians are afraid of the former child soldiers. These children show severe symptoms, particularly in the psychological sector. They report stomach- and headaches, nightmares, depression and feelings of guilt.