A Generation Scarred Beyond Repair

April 6, 2010
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A baby’s cry is heard right before it is forever silenced alongside its mother. A young boy is captured and forced to murder his own family and friends. Sorrow and desperation weigh down the air as the great tragedy that occurred here settles in. Bloody bodies are strewn across the dirt and the people lucky enough to escape with their lives are forever scarred. It is a normal day in northern Uganda as the Lord Resistance Army strikes fear into the hearts of millions with another raid. The civil war in Uganda has been tearing villages, families and lives apart for decades. ("History Of the War") It is affecting the whole population through raids, abductions, rapes, and torture. (Morrison) Fear is everywhere and people take refuge in government displacement camps and town centers despite the horrific living conditions. (McHugh) Luckily, some progress has been made, but this outrage needs to be stopped. The terror has gone on for long enough.
The key factor that started the war is the differences between Northern Uganda and Southern Uganda. Northern Uganda is poverty stricken, not very well developed and economically unstable. (McHugh) In some people’s opinions the Northern part of Uganda takes away from the well being of the whole country since the South is economically stable and very well developed. (McHugh) Southern Uganda can even be considered an example for African countries to look up to, whereas Northern is no better than other countries, if not worse. (McHugh) For this reason, the government of Uganda has been overlooking the Northern part of Uganda and treating them somewhat unfairly. The Acholi tribe, which is a group of people in Northern Uganda, felt as if they were being ignored, and it’s all history from there. ("History Of the War")
The tragedy started in the early nineteen eighties and to this day is the longest running war in Africa. ("History Of the War") Alice Lawkena started the rebellion, because she thought the Holy Spirit told her to overthrow the government. The government of Uganda was completely overlooking the northern half of the country and she felt as if they were unfairly represented so she started the rebellion. At this point the rebels were called the Holy Spirit Movement and the violence wasn’t as harsh. Lawkena was exiled and there was no clear leader for the rebels. ("History Of the War") Joseph Kony then stepped up claiming to be Lawkena’s cousin and took command. He transformed her Holy Spirit Movement into the Lord’s Resistance Army (the LRA)…. That’s when things got ugly. ("History Of the War")
The civil war is tearing the nation of Uganda apart. In some places in Uganda as much of ninety percent of their original population is missing, because they have fled out of fear or were captured and killed. (Amodeo) Two million innocent civilians are suffering greatly from the effects of a war that isn’t there’s to fight. ("History Of the War") There is a whole generation of children that have never know peace. ("History Of the War") The torture inflicted on villagers is beyond horrific and completely intolerable. People are being burned to death, tortured beyond explanation and having their body parts severed one by one by heartless rebels. (Morrison) Or worse; their own children.
“Your nose will be cut off together with your ears and in the end the sword will kill you. Your children will be taken into captivity and they will be burnt to death,” says Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA. Unfortunately, these aren’t just empty words simply spoken to intimidate people into hiding. Kony is obviously a big believer that actions speak louder than words, because the evil and desperation of his actions surpass all the words he has ever spoken. Children are being abducted from their families and the ones lucky enough to avoid capture rarely have much of a family to speak of. (Amodeo) Before the war, Uganda was prosperous, but all the conflict has halted any progress from being made, creating a harmful broad cultural impact.
Eighty percent of the Lord’s Resistance Army is made up of minors. (Amodeo) Joseph Kony has basically no support from the general population of Uganda, so he resorts to kidnapping children and forcing them to fight for him. Kony is one of the most evil tyrants to ever exist, because he,
“preys on children- they’re easier to indoctrinate control, and have them commit atrocities.” (Morrison) One thirteen year old, named Phillip, escaped captive of the LRA’s story really puts everything in perspective. Phillip confessed that he had been forced at gunpoint to kill his own mother and there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t relive that painful memory. (Morrison) He also reported that he had to club to death a boy that could no longer walk for lack of water. (Morrison) Believe it or not, these are normal cases in Northern Uganda society. No matter who you ask you will hear the tragedies that take place there. Everyone has experienced the pain in some way or another, there’s no escape. Phillip spent a year and a half in the bush; and he witnessed things no child- or adult for that matter- should ever have to see, much less experience. (Morrison) Many people were, and are, being held captive for much longer periods of time. It’s just as bad; if not worse, for girls that are “of age” (over thirteen). If they are not being forced to fight, they are used as sex slaves and given to the commanders of the LRA for wives. (Morrison) One boy was forced to kill his best friend by stoning her to death. (Fleshner) He described how it felt to have a gun shoved to his head and feeling so desperate he had no other choice. (Fleshner) These children are scarred beyond belief and in need of help, capture is almost inevitable, whereas escape is next to impossible.
Fear has crept into the hearts of even the bravest Ugandan souls. Two million people are seeking refuge in government “protected” displacement camps. (Holt) The living conditions are inhumane and the camps are majorly over-crowded. (McHugh) The dirty ground is littered with hut-like “houses” created from mud and thatch. (McHugh) Sickness spreads quickly and starvation is everywhere, but people put up with the conditions because they feel safer within the camps. (McHugh) The greatest activity of the inhabitants of the camp is simply survival. (McHugh) Mortality rates are so bad, they’re almost twice as much as Darfur which is about 600,000 casualties. (Holt) Many times the villagers only sources of water are muddy rivers which increases the sickness rates even more. (McHugh)
“This is terror like no other terror, I’ve been in a hundred countries. I’ve been working with human rights, peace, and humanitarian problems for twenty five years. I was shocked to my bones, seeing what happened in Uganda. For me, this is one of the biggest scandals of our time and generation,” says Jan Egleland, the head of the United Nation’s disaster relief program. Many people of the world have no idea just how bad the issue is.
Over ten thousand children, that are either homeless or don’t feel safe in their homes; seek shelter in town centers and other shelters such as hospitals or schools. (Price) The children walk about five miles every night and are referred to as “night commuters.” (Price) At the most intense times in the war, one shelter can provide six thousand children at a time with a meal, blanket, and clean, albeit hard, floor to sleep on. (Price) Many kids just visit their families once a week. (Price) The hundreds or thousands of kids all share the same hard floor. (Price)
“Surrounded by a tall razor fence the children sleep on concrete slabs, under tattered blankets. The kids walk miles just for a safe place to sleep, in fear of the Lord’s Resistance Army.” (McHugh) It’s sad to think these children have to go to such extremes out of fear.
Even though the civil war in Uganda may not seem relevant to my life, it affects me emotionally. I can’t believe that this tragedy has gone on for as long as it has and it really disappoints me that the people of the world haven’t done more for Uganda. It breaks my heart to realize what these people are going through, and I intend to do all that I can to help out the situation by getting involved in raising money for the Invisible Children Foundation. The Invisible Children Foundation helps all the Ugandan night commuters and orphans. ("History Of the War") They also raise money to get children off the front lines of the war which is a big deal to me. The things these children are going through are so horrific, I’m glad to know that some people are trying to help them out. I really want to someday go on a mission’s trip to Uganda to get first-hand experience in helping out the kids in pain.
The future for Uganda is uncertain. There has been many attempts for peace treaties and at a point of time there were record low numbers of night communters, no abductions and 300,000 abductees returned to their homes. ("Prospects for Peace") Unfortunately, nothing has proved permanent. Some Ugandan troops managed to kill a LRA leader about a year ago. ("Ugandan Troops Kill a Rebel Leader") The real future of the country relies on what the people of the world are doing for Uganda. The children of Uganda are crying out for help; it’s far past time to respond. A boy from Uganda was asked if he could say anything to Americans what would it be, and he responded,
“We, the children of Uganda, are created in the same vision of God as your children. Help us like we are your children.” (Fleshner) There are many opportunites to contribute; such as giving a child a chance to go to school by sponsoring them with a “legacy scholarship” through the Invisible Children Foundation. One of the most popular outreaches of the Invisible Children is Tri. Tri helps get child soldiers off the battlefield by supporting leaders in Uganda that are working for peace. It will take an army of people to give three dollars a week to bring home three thousand child soldiers. (“History of the War”) The lives of these people are worth no less than any of the rich and famous. Treat them like it.
The civil war in Uganda has gotten out of hand and been ignored by society for far too long. The country has been turned upside down through raids, attacks and abductions. (“History of the War”) People are fleeing out of fear to down-trodden government camps, where sickness and desperation rule. Child soldiers are put through agony beyond description and kids travel up to 5 miles a night to find a place to sleep. It breaks my heart to see these circumstances being ignored by the majority of the world, and it is time we took a stand. This war has ruined the lives of countless people, but is not getting the attention it needs and deserves.





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abn01 said...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm
Excellent article.  I appreciate your passion and know you'll go on to do great things for those in need.  Thanks for giving this critical issue some much needed attention!
 
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