The United Nations has broken undertakings to help end the kidnapping of children by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, according to a report by a children’s charity.
The number made homeless by the insurgency is twice that in Darfur, says the report by World Vision, which runs a children’s rehabilitation centre in Gulu, Uganda.
It adds that the UN has passed five resolutions in as many years on the protection of children in armed conflicts, including specific calls for action in Uganda, but the rate of abductions is higher than ever. “While the extreme abuses of children in northern Uganda are well documented and widely known, the international community has failed to find an effective way to protect them,” it adds.
It says the 18-year conflict has cost the country £725 million. More than 20,000 children have been abducted by the LRA, made to kill their parents and forced into bondage as child soldiers, sex slaves and weapons porters.
Two million people are living in squalid and cramped camps for the homeless and malnutrition among displaced children is up to 21 per cent in some areas. “Many international appeals were made to the UN and world leaders, Ugandan children addressed the UN.
“Each time their stories shocked audiences, each time they went home with hope. Their hopes turned to despair,” the report says.
Since the LRA was declared a terrorist organisation and threatened with military action in 2002, it has trebled the number of children it is abducting, the charity says.
Denis McNamara, the UN special adviser on displacement, rejected charges that the UN has offered “too little, too late” suggesting instead that groups such as World Vision should increase their own staff in the countryside.