The 20-year war in northern Uganda was one of the world’s most neglected humanitarian crises in the world.
About 20,000 children have been caught up in a conflict between the government and a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. Children were kidnapped, forcing girls to be sex slaves and boys to be child soldiers.
Caritas Uganda was involved both in providing humanitarian relief and running peace building programmes. Its Child Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program is trying to reintegrate abducted children back into their communities and providing psycho-social and material support.
The children will be reunited their families and provided with families. Over 3000 children have passed through Caritas centres, where they will received counselling on how to deal with the trauma, anger and sadness of their experiences.
Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu in northern Uganda set up an inter-faith council with Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faith leaders.
Meanwhile, Caritas Internationalis lobbied governments at the United Nations to press for peace in northern Uganda. Archbishop John Baptist Odama spoke before the UN Security Council imploring the international community to intervene in the forgotten conflict.
A peace deal in 2006 brought the fighting to an end.
The war had forced a million people from their homes and Caritas is helping them return to their homes by providing seeds, tools and agricultural training so they can begin farming again.
At the Wednesday Lunch at the Lowy Insititute on 27 February, Archbishop John Odama spoke about the brutal twenty-year conflict in northern Uganda in his presentation 'Reconciliation and development: The Ugandan experience'.
The presentation is available here: The Ugandan experience - MP3 (20MB)
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Wednesday Lunch at Lowy - Archbishop Odama presentation