War survivors yet to get justice

War survivors raise their complaints during a meeting with the authorities in Lira recently. Photo by Ephraim Kasozi

LIRA. Ten years after the Juba peace process, survivors of the armed conflict in the northern region between government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgents are yet to receive justice, compensation and psychosocial support.
The survivors, most of whom are women, say the crimes committed against them have left them traumatised.

Survivors of war crimes from the sub-regions of Acholi, Lango, Teso and West Nile suffered various forms of violations including unlawful killing, torture, forced disappearance, sexual violence, conscription into rebel ranks, enslavement, displacement, looting and destruction of their properties.
Although there have been government post conflict recovery and development programmes, women are still missing out on interventions such as mental health, counselling, sexual and reproductive health and maternal health, among others.
Women from Barlonyo in Lira District say the incidents are still fresh in their minds amid unfulfilled promises of resettlement by government.
Ms Anna Aceng says before the rebel attacked, her family had cattle and ploughing machines but they now use hand hoes which is tedious.

“When the war ended, we came back with nothing from the bush. We were promised to be resettled but got nothing. We have a lot of pain but government has done nothing for us since we came back. Feeding our families is a problem,” says Ms Aceng who adds that she contracted HIV/Aids as a result of rape.
Ms Saltina Akullu, whose children were abducted by rebels, says they have no health centre in Barlonyo which makes it difficult for them to get medical attention.
Lilly Achieng, whose in-laws were killed by LRA rebels and buried in a mass grave in Barlonyo, says she was severely beaten by rebels.

“I cannot carry a 20 liter jerrican of water. My husband was severely beaten that he lost his senses and he is mentally unstable. If you tell him one thing he replies something different. We have never got any help for his condition,” she laments.
However, Col (rtd) Shaban Bantariza, the deputy executive director of the government media centre, says there is no discrimination because the issues raised by the war survivors are the same issues affecting all women in the country.
“There are no special considerations and I cannot comment on those promises of water, health, poverty alleviation but I do not know about their complaints,” says Col Bantariza.

Isis-WICCE report

A report by Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange shows that victims of serious violations of international human rights law have a right to remedy.
“This right must apply without discrimination of any kind or on any ground. These requirements have significant implications for ensuring that female victims are treated without discrimination in remedy and reparation processes and outcomes,” reads the report. The report shows that despite list of rights that survivors of serious crimes have to remedy and reparation, few of those rights have actually been delivered.