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The Reintegration of Child Victims of War in Northern Uganda: Options and Challenges in the Post-War Era
While the use of children in war has most universally condemned human rights abuses in the world, yet currently a large number of children are believed to be fighting in over 30 conflicts around the globe. Of the above conflicts, Africa’s portion is about more than half. While some abducted children and youths are released, others either escaped or rescued or returned by their captors. Despite the broad nature of rehabilitation and reintegration, the impacts on individuals is huge, especially on relatively little is known child victims of war, their time in service and their experience of reintegration. This article describes experiences of Acholi and Lango children who were/are victims of war within the Lord’s Resistance Army, and upon their return into society. The paper highlights the life of abducted children during the conflict, their resilience in the midst of conflict, and their strong will to rebuild their lives. From the above, the article first examines the challenges and experiences faced by children while in captivity, and upon their return to family and community environment. Secondly, it challenges government’s assumption and aid agencies’ emphases on victimisation while focusing on rebuilding the child victim’s resilience and coping strategies. Thirdly, it examines government and other relevant stakeholders’ efforts in handling formerly abducted children and their reintegration into society. Fourthly, it offers a critical look at all efforts made by all the stakeholders involved in the reintegration of these children in society. In particular, it notes how the government, together with social and economic partners expressed readiness to assist children victims of war in northern Uganda. Lastly, the article provides suggestions and recommendations on how to create successful outcomes in protecting children of northern Uganda.