Soldiers need counselling - Amuru locals

Sunday March 22 2015

By JAMES OWICH

AMURU.

Residents of Amuru District have said soldiers, especially those who fought at the peak of the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda, should undergo psychosocial rehabilitation.

The locals’ call came after the trial of Lance Cpl Kennedy Okumu, 40, who killed a barmaid at Aisha Faidha, in Bibia Trading Centre early this month.

Cpl Okumu pleaded guilty to the murder before the court martial in Bibia on Wednesday and was remanded to Gulu Prison awaiting sentencing on April 6.

There have been several shooting incidents in the northern region where soldiers have killed or wounded civilians.

The residents say former rebel fighters have undergone psychosocial services and are leaving normally with civilians. They say similar treatment should be extended to soldiers.

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One of the locals in Bibia Town, only identified as Okwera, said many soldiers are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorders.

The locals said the several cases of soldiers shooting civilians was due to the army’s failure to rehabilitate its soldiers and monitor their mental health.

Capt Caesar Olweny Otim, the 4th Division spokesman, said the UPDF has units that deal with mental rehabilitation regarding post-war stress.

“Officers and soldiers always go through counselling and guidance and what is being witnessed are isolated cases,” he insisted.
In 2013, a soldier who had returned from military operations in Somalia, hacked his two-year-old daughter to death.

In April last year, in Gulu District, a soldier was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing one person and injuring three others.

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