Abducted: The Lord's Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda
Since the late 1980s, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a spiritualist rebel group with no clear political agenda, has abducted tens of thousands of children and adults to serve as porters and soldiers. Experience of forced conscription into the LRA is traumatic and varies in scope and intensity. Children and youth – some as young as 7 and 8 years old – have been forced to mutilate and kill civilians, including members of their own families and communities. In 1994, a group of parents of abducted children to establish the Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO), a reception center in Gulu that provides medical care, counseling, and a number of other services. More than 20,000 children and youth have since passed through GUSCO and other reception centers throughout northern Uganda.
In December 2005, the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations launched The Database Project to better document abduction and help improve the capacity of 8 reception centers in the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac, and Lira to collect and analyze information about former LRA abductees. At the time, these centers were still providing housing and care to hundreds of children and youth. This report presents the findings of the project, which analyzes the overall incidence of abduction based on those data and provides recommendations aimed at improving the process of reintegrating former LRA abductees into their communities.