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Rescued Child Soldiers
At the age of seven, Judith became an accomplice to a murder. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) raided her village and forced Judith to participate in the killing of her mother. The LRA then kidnapped Judith and her siblings and forced them to serve Joseph Kony. Thousands of children share Judith’s story. Today, the rescued child soldiers in Africa are finding healing and restoration through art.

The Rise of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

The World Economic Forum found that poverty, social marginalization and political disenfranchisement were fertilizers for extremist groups to take root and grow. In the 1980s, poverty, social marginalization and political disenfranchisement hit Uganda hard. Estimates determined that one-third of the population lives below the poverty line.

Uganda government officials did little to improve the dire situation. As a result, rebel groups and organizations began to pop up throughout the country. The Holy Spirit Movement, a militaristic and spiritual rebel group, formed to fight against the oppression of the people in northern Uganda. Joseph Kony joined the movement in the mid-1980s. After the Holy Spirit Movement’s defeat in 1988, Kony kept the organization. He renamed the group the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony used religion and traditional beliefs to continue the support of the people living in northern Uganda. His operation expanded to the nearby countries of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. The tactics Kony and the LRA used became more violent over time.

Kony and the LRA caused the displacement of more than 1.9 million people. Authorities issued a number of arrest warrants for Kony and leaders of the LRA on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The LRA raided villages, burned down homes and murdered or mutilated thousands of people.

Child Soldiers in Africa

Kony lacked support for his cause and army. As a result, he abducted children and forced them into his service. Estimates state that the LRA kidnapped between 30,000 and 60,000 children. The LRA trained males to be child soldiers and females to be sex slaves. Fear was a major driver for children to remain in the LRA. Many children, like Judith, had to kill their parents and other loved ones for survival.

Art Is Restoring Peace to Rescued Child Soldiers

The U.N. called the LRA crisis the “most forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency in the world.” A 29-minute film became the most effective tool in mobilizing the world into taking action against Kony and the LRA.

Art and social media were the key components of the success of the film “KONY 2012.” The U.S. advocacy group, Invisible Children, launched a digital campaign with the release of the film. The campaign’s goal was to make the infamous warlord famous in order to mobilize world leaders to stop him. The film garnered over 100 million views in six days. Public outcry and celebrity support increased the pressure for global leaders to take action against Kony. Eventually, authorities sanctioned a universal manhunt to capture Kony and put an end to the LRA. People have rescued many of the child soldiers in Africa but Kony still remains at-large. Today, the LRA has reduced to a group of fewer than 300 members.

Art has also been an effective tool for healing and restoration for the child victims of the LRA crisis. For many of the rescued child soldiers in Africa, there were some elements in their story that were too painful to put into words. Art became an avenue for those children to confront the past and face the future. Exile International, a nonprofit organization, has been providing healing to war-affected children through art-focused trauma care since 2008.

Recently, Exile International partnered with award-winning photographer and artist Jeremy Cowart to share the faces and powerful stories of child survivors. The Poza Project utilized the children’s art and Cowart’s talent to create a healing opportunity for the children to tell their own story of survival. Unique photographs and mixed art media created by the children were available for purchase. All the proceeds helped provide art therapy and holistic rehabilitation to children survivors of war. The Poza Project showcased a dozen children including Judith.

Judith spent nearly two years in captivity before being rescued. Today, she is back in school and working to become a psychiatric doctor. With the help of The Poza Project, Judith is one step closer to her dream of helping the other victims of Kony and the LRA.

– Paola Nuñez
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose central location makes it an important destination for trade and tourism. However, large economic disparities and high unemployment levels have led to a rise in the crime of human trafficking. Inadequate funding of law enforcement units and high levels of poverty make the general population of Uganda vulnerable to human trafficking, including children. Here are 10 facts about child labor in Uganda.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Uganda

  1. Sex trafficking: According to the United States Bureau of International Labor Affairs, children in Uganda are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sex trafficking. Minors from the Karamoja region are trafficked to Kampala and other large urban areas where demand for child labor and sex slavery is high. Children from neighboring countries such as South Sudan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also exploited in forced agricultural labor and sex trafficking in Uganda.
  2. Education: Limited access to education makes children particularly vulnerable to forced labor. The law provides free public education; however, the cost of school materials such as uniforms and writing utensils make access to education a challenge for many. In addition to the barriers to accessing education, children often experience physical and sexual abuse at school by teachers and peers.
  3. Rural areas: Children from rural areas are about three times more likely to be trafficked into child labor than city children. The child employment rate in rural areas is 34 percent while in urban areas it is 11 percent. In Kampala, only three percent of children are employed illegally, while 45 percent of children in the central region are employed.
  4. Sectors of child labor: In Uganda, child labor is broken up into four categories:
    • Industry sector: Children are forced to mine, work in quarries or make bricks.
    • Service sector: Children work in the streets selling products and collecting and selling scrap metal.
    • Agriculture sector: Children work in industries of tobacco, coffee and sugar cane.
    • Worst forms: Children are sold into commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking or forced to labor in agriculture. Sometimes minors are used for illegal activities such as smuggling and stealing as well.
  5. Lord’s Resistance Army: The “worst forms” category is mainly related to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in northern Uganda, founded by Joseph Kony. The group has been active since 1987 and has been known to kidnap children and force girls into sex slavery. The group also trafficks boys as child soldiers and uses brainwashing techniques to ensure their loyalty. Eighty percent of the LRA members are children. From 1987 to 2009, approximately 38,000 children were kidnapped. Girls were employed as cooks and sex slaves for the LRA soldiers, while boys must learn to kill or be killed.
  6. Fighting child labor: In 2012, the government took the first steps in creating legislation to get rid of the worst forms of child labor. The Ugandan government started the National Action Plan (NAP) and created a Counter-Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) office and an inter-ministerial Task Force to organize anti-trafficking strategies.
  7. Legal work age: Ugandan law prohibits the labor of children under 12 years of age. National labor legislation forbids the involvement of children aged 12–13 in any form of employment except for light work that is supervised by an adult older than 18 years of age. “Light work” must not get in the way of the child’s education.
  8. Ensuring education: Right now children in Uganda are only required to attend school up until age 13, however, in 2016, the government passed the Children (Amendment) Act which establishes the age of 16 as the minimum age for work. The act also criminalizes the sex trafficking of children. The act is meant to encourage children to stay in school since they legally cannot work until 16 years of age.
  9. Humanium: The international non-governmental organization, Humanium, works in Uganda to combat the abuse of children’s rights. They have set out six policies that must be implemented to combat child labor. These include:
    • Education and second chance learning: These are essential for reintegrating adults into society who have been harmed through forced child labor.
    • Expand social protection: Serve to prevent vulnerable households from having to resort to child labor to support their families.
    • Promote greater public awareness: Providing information on child labor can increase public outrage and support for child protective legislation.
    • Promote social mobilization against child labor.
    • Strengthen child labor inspections and monitoring.
    • Advocacy of political commitment: This is essential to ensure that child labor reduction policies occur.
  10. The Human Trafficking Institute: The Human Trafficking Institute is working closely with the Ugandan government. So far they have approved the creation of a specialized Human Trafficking Department in the Ugandan police force. The department is supposed to have over 250 staff members as well as specialized human trafficking officers posted across the country. The department will support the rehabilitation of trafficking victims and a crackdown on other forms of child labor.

– Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Uganda
Uganda is a landlocked country located in East Africa that currently holds a relatively stable political environment and a steadily developing economy; however, before this hard-earned progress, the country had to endure several coups and a seemingly formidable military dictatorship following its independence from Great Britain in 1962. One of the most well-known dictators of that era was Idi Amin Dada, who took the drastic action of expelling all Asians in the nation in the 1980s. In addition, Uganda has a vast political history marked by longstanding effects of continuous instability which includes more than four coups since the nation’s independence.

The article below illuminates the top 10 facts about child soldiers in Uganda and displays how this population interacts with the nation’s historical emergence.

Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Uganda

  1. Uganda’s volatile political atmosphere paved the way for a brutal 20-year rebel insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that began in the nation’s northern region. This organization became notorious for child abductions that were done to fill its ranks, in addition to its brutal crimes.
  2. According to a UNICEF report, almost 20,000 children have been forcefully recruited in the 19-year conflict.
  3. The emergence of the LRA rebel group — initially called the Holy Spirit Movement — is one of the major attributes of the country’s instability. This organization is known as one of the world’s most brutal and inhumane terroristic organizations.
  4. Lord’s Resistance Army demands that Uganda is governed according to the Biblical 10 Commandments, and has also directed its forces to fight against President Yoweri’s oppression of Northern Uganda.
  5. The LRA was founded by a member of the Acholi Ethnolinguistic Group, Alice Auma (later known as Alice Lawkena), who declared herself as a messenger of the spirits. She led the first army of rebels against President Yoweri Museveni and was exiled in 1987 after being defeated.
  6. The LRA is currently headed by Joseph Kony who took control of the rebel group after Lawkena, who is rumored to be his cousin and gave the group its current name and tried to sustain the army to no avail.
  7. During this transition period, the LRA lost significant regional support and resources and resorted to a series of lethal rebellious actions that included stealing supplies and abducting children to serve as soldiers. The abductions came to mark the beginning of child soldiers in Uganda when the practice began occurring in earnest in 1994.
  8. Following this strategy shift, the LRA became made up mostly of child soldiers. Ninety percent of the forces abducted into the army disrupted the northern part of the country to the point that the population had to disperse in IDP camps — disease-infested areas that lacked resources and appropriate treatment.
  9. A major part of LRA’ s method of aligning new recruits with the rebel group’s overarching agenda is to reaffirm a notion of hopelessness. Spreading such ideological perspectives included heinous instruction i.e. forcing members to kill their parents and anyone deemed close to the child. If a child refused to perform these tasks, he or she would then face death in front of the other recruits so as to instill fear in other new recruits.
  10. Thirty percent of child soldiers recruited by the LRA are women whose main roles in the army include cooking for soldiers and serving as sex slaves. One of the most infamous abduction incidents occurred in 2005 when 200 girls were abducted from a Catholic school.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

The LRA seems to be a shadow of what it used to be after being pushed out of the country following a major expedition in the mid-2000s. Governmental and nongovernmental international forces — such as the U.S. — played important roles in creating global awareness of the destruction and inhumane methods of the group. However, Kony and some army members remain elusive and are reported to roam untraced around fragile nations in central Africa.

While efforts to catch the leading forces of this group and bring them to justice remains significant, the rehabilitation and reintegration of those individuals who endured traumas at the hands of the LRA is a pressing issue that requires all hands on deck.

– Bilen Kassie
Photo: Flickr

7 Facts About Ugandan Child Soldiers
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began in 1987 in Uganda to rebel against President Yoweri Museveni. Children constitute most of the army. The LRA forces child soldiers in Uganda to commit acts of violence on other minors within the LRA ranks as well as brutalities on their own siblings.

LRA and Child Soldiers in Uganda

Between 1988 and 2004, the LRA abducted 30,000 Ugandan children.

Joseph Kony heads the LRA. He grew up in the northern Ugandan village, Odek. His relative, Alice Auma Lakwena, began a rebel group called The Holy Spirit Movement in 1986 when Museveni seized power. In 1987, Kony declared himself a prophet, changed the name of the group to the LRA and began proclaiming rule based on the Ten Commandments.

In October 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began attempting to arrest Kony. A peace agreement was finalized in April 2008, but the child soldiers in Uganda and neighboring countries remained an issue.

Since 2008, Kony and his forces have been shifting their presence to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. The LRA Crisis Tracker, a website that reports LRA attacks and notifies email subscribers, lists 27 verified child abductions in these countries in 2018 alone.

Issues with the LRA

The LRA has displaced more than two million people since 1986 thereby increasing poverty in Uganda, especially in the north. However, the relation between the LRA and poverty is not mutually exclusive. The LRA and its brutal use of child soldiers in Uganda is a result of the harsh poverty that Kony and many others in the LRA ranks have experienced. Note the following:

  1. A huge income inequality, rooted in colonialism, exists between northern and southern Uganda’s north and south.
  2. British colonists created a militant north.
  3. The Acholi people have been systematically oppressed.

When the British colonized Uganda in 1860, a centralized government did not exist. They created agricultural and commercial centers in southern Uganda.

This left the north to provide labor. The British found higher success rates in northern Uganda for army recruitment because it provided northerners an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. These divisions continued after Uganda gained independence in 1962.

Acholi

Kony came from the impoverished north and is Acholi, an ethnolinguistic group. Idi Amin Dada, Former Ugandan President from 1971 to 1979, persecuted and executed the Acholi due to their military ties and alignment with Apollo Milton Obote, who was in office as the Prime Minister from 1962 to 1966 and as the President from 1966 to 1971 and then again from 1980 to 1985.

The British created a system where many Acholi people turned to the army to escape extreme poverty and then they were persecuted for it. Poverty and persecution influenced Kony’s disillusionment with the government and his desire to rebel and create child soldiers in Uganda.

However, the LRA’s actions have not combated the root issues of poverty and oppression. The cycle of poverty in Uganda propagates because of Kony and the LRA’s use of Ugandan child soldiers in the following ways:

  1. One of the biggest populations of displaced people now exists in northern and eastern Uganda. Most LRA raids take place at night, so when Kony’s presence was focused in Uganda, mothers and children trying to avoid becoming Ugandan soldiers fled their villages to bigger towns and secure government camps. More than 80 percent of the Acholi people were displaced.
  2. Malnutrition exists within the LRA ranks as well and many Ugandans focused on fleeing for their lives over planting food. This created severe food shortages, particularly in 2004.
  3. A lack of health workers exists because so many of them had to escape the LRA.
  4. Kony and other men in the LRA took many female captives as “wives” and forced them to have more children in order to provide more resources.

Moving Forward in Uganda

Now that most of LRA’s presence is focused elsewhere, Uganda is working to solve its problems. In 2006, 31.1 percent of Ugandans were under the national poverty line, according to The World Bank’s 2016 Uganda Poverty Assessment. In 2013, it went down to 19.7 percent. Northern and eastern Uganda still suffer devastating consequences from Kony’s reign of terror, and the same study reveals that poverty has increased in those regions from 68 percent to 84 percent in those seven years.

In June 2009, the LRA had abducted 491 civilians and caused 484 civilian fatalities in Uganda. While peace is coming to Uganda and its children, the LRA still violently demonstrates its power in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it abducted 124 civilians in 2018.

In June 2018, there have been no reported fatalities or abductions, meaning there are no new child soldiers in Uganda this year. The growing peace in Uganda provides hope that the country’s poverty rate might reduce and that the LRA would not reign indefinitely.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Congressman Urges More Aid to the Central African RepublicRep. David Cicilline (D–R.I.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said critical aid to the Central African Republic (CAR) was necessary after visiting the country with a congressional delegation in August. He stated that the international community “has to think about the long-term implications of abandoning our efforts to stabilize this country.”

Cicilline specifically criticized the 2017 withdrawal of U.S. special operation forces in the African country. Since the withdrawal, members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel faction in CAR, have continued to attack civilians, particularly in the country’s southeast region.

Since its independence from France in 1960, CAR has experienced near-constant sectarian violence and political instability, usually caused by religious or ethnic conflicts. Its economy, infrastructure and development have suffered as a result.

The Central African Republic ranks last on the U.N. Human Development Index. More than 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, and only 36.8 percent are literate. Preventable diseases, such as malaria and malnutrition, have contributed to an average life expectancy of 52.3 years.

According to Oxfam, 60 percent of CAR is controlled by rebel groups. In fact, the U.S. suspended embassy operations in CAR from December 2012 to September 2014 due to violence spurred by civil war. This violence also has displaced 600,000 people.

The U.S. has historically provided aid to the Central African Republic. In the past two years, the U.S. spent more than $500 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance to CAR. The U.S. also supported U.N. peace operations in CAR, which sent more than 10,000 peacekeepers to the embattled country.

However, the U.S. recently decreased aid to the Central African Republic. For FY 2017, the U.S. sent $48.6 million in aid to CAR, compared to $64.7 million in FY 2016. USAID also stated their purpose in CAR is to primarily respond to humanitarian crises as opposed to supporting long-term development.

The U.N. mission mandate in CAR ends in November. At that time, the U.N. Security Council can send additional peacekeeping support to the country.

CAR remains a complicated geopolitical issue. Nonetheless, the international community remains committed to providing aid to the Central African Republic to promote stability and development and empower its population to rise out of poverty.

Sean Newhouse

Human Rights Violations in UgandaUganda has undergone notoriously gruesome human rights violations. From the terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army to government discrimination against LGBTI groups, the human rights violations Ugandans have experienced have been treacherous. The recent election caused turmoil for Ugandans as many claim the process was neither impartial nor free as it should have been.

President Yoweri Museveni was elected for yet another five-year term in February 2016, putting him in power for at least the next 30 years. The election process was claimed to have been obstructed by removing the freedoms of expression, assembly and association of citizens. Violations of these freedoms were carried out by security forces.

Government officials and police repeatedly tried to keep journalists and media outlets out of commission by using physical force or by shutting down entire operations. For example, soldiers from the special forces stopped a local television station from covering some campaign meetings of the opposing candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Furthermore, the Uganda Communications Commission blocked social media sites on election day for what they said was “national security reasons.” These violations prevented the flow of information and obstructed citizens’ rights to obtain valuable information.

The police repeatedly interrupted campaign rallies for Besigye by using force against protesters and even arresting Besigye himself, detaining him before releasing him with no charges laid. Police even opened fire on FDC supporters in Kampala, killing one and injuring many others. Throughout the election process, the police targeted FDC supporters and anyone associated with Besigye’s campaign.

Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are allowed in the country, they are not given an easy pass. The NGO Act, which went into effect in March of 2016, vaguely presents its policy, leaving room for interpretation as to how it can be applied. Several NGO offices were broken into last year and thieves took computers, internet servers, projectors and more. Although a committee was formed to investigate, no progress on the case has been made.

These human rights violations in Uganda should be a concern for the country, the continent of Africa, and the world. They showcase just how far people can go in mistreating those who disagree with or challenge them. Hopefully with time and continued help from NGOs, human rights violations can be significantly reduced in the country of Uganda.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

UgandaThe Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) took a strong hold in Northern Uganda in 1986. Its leader, Joseph Kony, commanded his troops to overthrow the Ugandan government by abducting thousands of children and forcing them to work for him.

The Lord’s Resistance Army only had access to Northern Uganda, leaving half of the country in disarray while the other side of the country focused on economic and social advancement.

During its malevolent attacks, the LRA was known to kill the weak and old with machetes, swords, or stones. To further elicit fear, Kony would maim victims, leaving his mark on villages.

Kony’s attacks have scarred and uprooted the lives of nearly all Acholi people, who make up the majority of persons living in Northern Uganda. Due to fear, many have took refuge and fled their homes. Many continued to stay in hiding even after Kony’s attacks became less frequent beginning in 2006.

Due to Joseph Kony’s reign of terror, nearly the entire population of Northern Uganda was displaced. Little was done to ensure that children had access to education, leaving the region with two generations of uneducated youth.

As the Acholi people began to feel safe enough to return to their homes, they became aware of the destruction that happened in their villages. There were no real jobs available, there was no access to education and there was no infrastructure.

Unlike in the rest of Uganda, where children have a chance to receive an education, the dire lack of facilities in Northern Uganda reinforces the cycle of poverty.

Many international organizations are trying to give Acholi children access to education and to help break the dreadful cycle of poverty that is looming over them. For example, War Child is an organization that seeks to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined by war.

War Child is helping by sending 2,000 of the poorest Acholi children to school. This involves training and giving grants to parents, siblings and other family members. In some cases, the grants are given to children directly, so that they may  set up their own income-generating enterprises.

The organization is also training teachers in Northern Uganda to teach at a higher standard and to run schools efficiently. War Child also has a Youth Entrepreneurship Operation which provides loans to young Acholi people money to start their own businesses. War Child provides not only funding, but also mentorship and verbal support.

Between getting children in school, hiring and educating teachers and providing entrepreneurship starting blocks, War Child is bringing hope back to a recovering region. The humanitarian community hopes that other organizations will soon be inspired to undertake similar initiatives, in order to help rebuild lives in Northern Uganda.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

hunger in uganda
Welcome to Uganda, Africa’s ultimate paradox. This East African nation has a lot going for it; politically, economically, and socially, Uganda is making steady progress, but hunger in Uganda is still a problem. A quarter of its people still remain impoverished, even more live without access to safe drinking water and far too many people (especially children) experience the effects of hunger and malnourishment. Something isn’t adding up.

Uganda has nutrient-rich earth combined with a productive rainy season and an ample supply of natural resources support Uganda’s strong agricultural economy. In the last five years, Uganda has ushered in a period of relative political stability, marked by the decline of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the county’s northern region. Human development is progressing steadily, and poverty is (although still relatively high) declining.

However, Uganda’s people are unlikely to appreciate the effects of a growing economy, a stable political climate, and improving standards of human development when they’re ill with diarrhea, infection and parasites – conditions associated with hunger and malnourishment.

Like many of Africa’s agricultural economies, Uganda’s isn’t feeding its people. The changing political atmosphere has allowed Ugandans to leave the “makeshift camps” in which they were staying while the Lord’s Resistance Army wreaked havoc in the north, but has failed to provide the continued resources necessary for these people to establish permanent livelihoods as well as permanent homes. A decreasing poverty rate has manifested itself as reduced absolute poverty, but stable relative poverty.

The good news is that if Uganda continues to enforce governmental stability, grow its economy, and invest in human development, hunger should decline significantly within the decade. In fact, Uganda has already seen a decline in hunger; in the 22 years between 1990 and 2012, initiatives supported by the Ugandan government were successful in reducing hunger by 15 percent.

Hunger is still widespread,  but the implementation of similar government feeding programs, especially with the support of foreign aid and international humanitarian organizations, should reduce hunger significantly in the coming years.

– Elise Riley 

Sources: Action Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, World Food Programme, United Nations Development Programme in Uganda
Photo: Reuters

LRA2_opt
The Lord’s Resistance Army is a rebel group led by Joseph Kony that was formed in 1989 in Northern Uganda to fight the Ugandan government. The LRA is widely regarded as one of the most violent and brutal groups in the world as it regularly, murders, rapes and plunders villages. At the very height of the group’s power, 2 million people in northern Uganda were displaced.

The Lord’s Resistance Army began as a religious movement led by Alice Lakwena. Lakwena claimed the Holy Spirit was leading her to overthrow the Ugandan government. At the time, popular resentment of the government helped to intensify support for her Holy Spirit Movement. However, soon the government was able to depose of Lakwena and push back the rebel group into the bush.

However, the movement did not end with Lakwena. A man named Joseph Kony, who claimed to be Lakwena’s cousin, revitalized the group and unleashed a new reign of terror. Kony rechristened the group as the Lord’s Resistance Army. Claiming to follow the 10 commandments, Kony’s LRA gained a cult-like following and pursued its original goal of overthrowing the Ugandan government. However, Kony quickly began to lose support for his rebel group so he was forced to resort to abducting thousands of children to serve as soldiers.

The LRA has become notorious for utilizing child soldiers. Rebels often disguise themselves as Ugandan military forces and attack villagers. The LRA has slaughtered thousands. Others they mutilate to serve as warnings to the government and villages. Any captives, many of which are children, are violently indoctrinated and forced into slavery as soldiers, cooks, or sex slaves. To keep captives from escaping, the LRA often forces them to kill their own family members. Those who do not do so are killed off.

Today the LRA continues to dwindle in size due to military pressure and defection.

The UN Security Council has condemned the LRA repeatedly. In 2005, the International Criminal Court also issued arrest warrants for the LRA’s top leaders for crimes against humanity, including Joseph Kony. Many attempts have been made to reach a peace agreement between the LRA and the Ugandan government. However, Joseph Kony has avoided such meetings each time. Thus today the Ugandan government continues to battle the LRA. In October 2011, the 100 U.S. military advisors from Army Special Forces were deployed to Uganda with the intention of  providing training and assistance to fight the LRA.

Currently, the LRA remains one of the most elusive and least understood rebel groups in the world. Yet its crimes hardly go unnoticed. However, with increasing foreign pressure and foreign aid, the LRA faces a bleaker future.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: LRA Crisis tracker, FAS, Department of State, Enough Project
Photo: TCON

War_Crimes_Poverty
For hundreds of years, humans have been developing the modern-day laws of war to determine what is legal in the context of armed conflict. For the most part, such laws have been set to govern international armed conflict, such as the Geneva Conventions. Nonetheless, the Internet, traditional media sources, and social media connect us to daily atrocities, carried out under the guise of war that continue to violate international humanitarian law and prey on the extreme poor. As a result of violations that inhibit domestic and international aid, millions of people face hunger and disease in association with extreme poverty that goes unaddressed by international courts.

In 1945, when WWII was won by the Allied Forces, with 6 million dead in concentration camps, the responsible Nazi officers were tried for war crimes. All of the Allied nations, though not initially supporting the format of the trials themselves, backed the justice meted out by the Allied courts as a response. Some of the officers faced death, while others were sentenced to prison.

Today, the international body charged with bringing justice to war-torn nations, the International Criminal Court, fails to be recognized by the United States and many other influential countries that affect the global-political environment of the United Nations. Without having all countries as signatories, the ICC struggles to address atrocities being committed in some of the world’s poorest and most disenfranchised communities.

Because the ICC depends on participation from countries hosting alleged criminals to assert jurisdiction over the criminals within that host country’s borders, a lack of participation effectively cripples the ability of the Court to perform its duties in upholding international humanitarian law. In some cases, domestic courts are left to deliver justice, which, in the context of Syria, becomes all but impossible, seeing as the target of charges is the country’s president.

Because the poorest communities are often targeted by the perpetrators of war crimes, such as leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army Jospeh Kony, it may be all the more necessary that international courts acquire jurisdiction over these otherwise ungoverned warlords. The most impoverished are often the first casualties of war and feel the effects of a diminished food supply, lacking sanitation, and inadequate first aid facilities. Refugees of war in Africa and Asia are particularly vulnerable in the face of natural disasters and the long-term effects of climate change.

– Herman Watson

Source: USHMM, International Criminal Court, WarChild UK
Photo: Save the Children