Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants and their families have arrived safely in Uganda after a collaborative effort between governments, NGOs, and MONUSCO. These individuals had been residing in hard-to-reach areas in the Central African Republic (CAR), surrounded by various armed groups in conflict with the CAR government.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja expressed her commitment to welcoming these individuals back into Ugandan society. She stated, “I want to assure our brothers and sisters from Central African Republic (CAR) that these are our children, our grandchildren, and they are going to be given all the support they need to live happily in their country.”
The final group of 61 former LRA combatants and their family members, consisting of 15 men, 14 women, and 32 children, was welcomed back in Entebbe by Ms. Nabbanja. She also mentioned that there are other groups in Nakasongola, Uganda, awaiting reintegration into the community under the supervision of the Ministry for Northern Uganda.
Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, noted that out of the 67 people who returned, two parents and their four children chose to remain in the Central African Republic, where the LRA rebel group is believed to be operating.
The successful return of these ex-fighters was made possible through the joint efforts of both governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and MONUSCO. This development has brought joy to the families of those returning, as highlighted by Anthony Akol, Chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) and Member of Parliament for Kilak North. Mr. Akol, who himself was abducted by the LRA in the past, emphasized the need for the government to provide skills and support to the ex-combatants to facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, initiated a violent rebellion in northern Uganda over three decades ago, aiming to impose its version of the Ten Commandments in the region. This rebellion resulted in widespread terror that extended to multiple countries, claiming over 100,000 lives and leading to the abduction of 60,000 children. Joseph Kony, who remains at large, has been subject to an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2005 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.