The rehabilitation and reintegration efforts for former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants have received a significant boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Association (MOA) between the Government, represented by the Office of the Prime Minister, and NGOs PAX and APRu. These organizations played a vital role in repatriating 141 individuals, including 36 ex-combatants, 27 spouses, and 78 children, from Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda.
Signed on February 1, 2024, in Gulu City, the MOA outlines the collaboration between the government and PAX and APRu in providing health services, feeding, skills training, and school fees for the children of ex-combatants. Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyu Cwiny, detailed the support provided, including mattresses, basins, saucepans, blankets, plates, cups, maize flour, beans, and monetary assistance to LRA returnees.
PAX and APRu are mandated to offer food, beverages, and sanitary items during reintegration programs in Gulu, organize medical checkups, and ensure follow-up medical care. They will also provide education for children and vocational training for adults, with a focus on psychology services for women, children, and men. The organizations will advise on various aspects, including family dynamics, gender issues, and mediation, facilitating family visits and repatriation.
In return, the Government commits to ensuring security, water, electricity, and timely medical care for LRA returnees during their stay in Gulu camps until resettlement. The government will encourage traditional justice ceremonies for reconciliation, promote family visits, and facilitate repatriation through diplomatic channels.
National Coordinator of APRu, Malitano Apayima Jean Claude, shared ongoing efforts such as medical checkups, informal classes for children, financial support for food, and agricultural initiatives to cater to specific preferences of the returnees.
Brig. Patrick Ocen, chairperson of the technical committee for repatriation in the defense ministry, emphasized the need for confidentiality in health information and urged starting with psychological treatment for the ex-combatants. Gulu City’s principal education officer, Richard Irwenyo, highlighted the enrollment of 26 children in Vanguard Primary School, with plans for a new nursery school.