Children Born in LRA Captivity Struggle with Tribal Identities Top story

4626 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The children, born by girls abducted and forced to become sex slaves for LRA commanders have failed to fit in villages where their mothers were captured more than a decade ago. Part of the problem originates from the use pseudonyms to hide the real identity of the parents, a strategy adopted to protect other family members and village mates from violent revenge.

Children fathered by men in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels' ranks are facing rejection from their own communities after their escape from captivity.

The children, born by girls abducted and forced to become sex slaves for LRA commanders have failed to fit in villages where their mothers were captured more than a decade ago.

Part of the problem originates from the use pseudonyms to hide the real identity of the parents, a strategy adopted to protect other family members and village mates from violent revenge.

Abducted at age 12, Evelyn Amony, one of the LRA Captives says they are usually subjected to a multitude of questions about the children they returned home with.

Amony who spent up to 11 years in captivity, became one of the numerous wives to LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony and, like many other captives, had children against her will. She is now the Chairperson for an advocacy group that fights for the right of formerly abducted girls and children "Women Advocacy Network"- (WAN).

Amony recollects that these children are being constantly reminded that they were born in sin and on the basis of this, they are discriminated against. She noted that such finger pointing are making them restless and refreshes the ordeal they went through while in captivity.

Florence Ayot, another formerly abducted girl narrates that she faces a similar situation.  Ayot had three children with Dominic Ongwen, one of the LRA's top commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court.

However, she was rejected by her own family after rehabilitation and has failed to trace the true parentage of her ‘husband' Dominic Ongwen. Ayot, who escaped from captivity in 2006, says one family from Alero in Nwoya District and another from Palaro in Gulu district have both approached her claiming that Ongwen was their son.

She added that her children have been subjected to ill treatment both in the community and in school because of their parental background.

Lino Owor Ogora, the Team Leader Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP), an advocacy group which is assisting communities affected by the war to overcome traumatic experiences noted that the formerly abducted persons including women and children born in captivity are still struggling to have an identity.

Ogora added that the absence of a social support system is also putting their future at stake.

Last year, the Deputy Paramount Chief of Acholi Rwot George William Lugayi expressed concern over the plight of formerly abducted girls who are struggling to reintegrate into the communities with their fatherless children.

The former captives recently petitioned Parliament to draft a law that will protect them and the children born in captivity.

It is not clear how many girls LRA abducted in the longest civil war in Africa but the United Nations' child's agency- UNICEF puts the figure at between 10,000 and 15, 000 girls.