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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 56 / 125

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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

over the country in 1986, are well-known.

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) established a system of government based on tiers of elected local committees, creating stability, a reduction in military activity, and a positive climate both for enterprise and for international assistance. However, despite this the country has not been free of war. Resentment against central government, sometimes in the form of armed rebellion, is appearing in a number of peripheral regions of Uganda such as the north, the north-west and the east. There are still cultural and political schisms between the Bantu populations in the centre and south-west of the country, and the Nilotic and Central Sudanic peoples in the north. Uganda has been involved militarily in both the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the north, resistance to the regime by a succession of rebel groups (the Lord’s

Resistance Movement or LRA18

being the most recent) has continued in various forms

since 1986. Human rights abuses of the population have been recorded on both the rebel and the government sides. Over 90% of the Acholi population19 now lives in ‘protected villages’ or displaced camps, where self-sufficient agriculture is no longer possible because of lack of space. The war has resulted in gross impoverishment through the loss of livestock and land. 65.8% of the population of the northern region falls below the poverty line and accounts for over one third of the country’s poor, compared with 20.3% in the Central region, 28.1% in the Western region and 36.5% in the Eastern region. The traumatic experiences to which the population of the north has been exposed (including intimidation, torture, harassment, killings, captivity, inhumane displaced living conditions, sexual abuse of different kinds, duress in captivity or in hiding) have brought intense suffering to individuals and have in turn rendered Acholi society vulnerable to breakdown.

Despite various military campaigns against them, the LRA continued to ravage the population with impunity, committing various abuses including murder, mutilations,

abductions, and theft. In 1999, support which had sustained it up

after it had till then, LRA

apparently lost the international violence decreased in volume and

severity, and people in the north began to prepare for peace.

Acholi clans, with

government backing, restored the institution of the clan chiefs and elders (rodi), and in 2000 the government introduced the Amnesty Act. Both of these initiatives aimed to encourage rank and file LRA fighters in the bush – many of whom had been abducted as children and forced into a life of violence - to return without fear of reprisals. However, in 2000, LRA attacks began again with increased severity, and in 2002, the governments of Uganda and Sudan launched a joint military operation

against the LRA, ‘Operation Iron Fist’.

This approach, together with the increasing numbers of combatants emerging from

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  • t is believed that the LRA’s aim is to install the Ten Commandments as the basis of Acholi society.

The Acholi ethnic group occupies the districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader

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