Uganda to compensate LRA victims

2010-06-18 14:20

Kampala - The Ugandan government will compensate about 10 000 people in the country's northern region, who were maimed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels over two decades, ahead of elections next year.

One of the most ruthless rebel groups, the LRA waged a brutal but futile insurgency from their bases in northern Ugandan and southern Sudan to dislodge President Yoweri Museveni and establish a theocracy in the east African country.

The military ejected the rebels from the area in 2005. The rebel leader, Joseph Kony, wanted by the ICC over charges of war crimes, is now believed to be roaming the jungles of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic (CAR).

Richard Todwong, President Museveni's special adviser on northern Uganda, told Reuters on Friday the government had begun to register everyone who had suffered crippling physical harm to prepare a register of victims to collect compensation.

"All people in northern Uganda, of course, suffered personal and collective loss in some way," he said. "But we are looking (for) and registering those that were maimed or suffered some form of deformation from the war."

In February the government launched a $100m rehabilitation programme to restore the region's economic and social infrastructure destroyed by the war, ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in February next year.

LRA rebels are known for killing civilians, abducting women and children to use as sex slaves and child soldiers and slicing lips off victims to wring support from the local population or as punishment to perceived civilian enemies.

So far, 5 000 people who are qualified for compensation have been recorded in the Acholi sub region, the epicentre of the LRA's brutalities. In total, he said, they expected an estimated 10 000 victims to qualify and payouts to begin by October.

The amount individuals will receive has yet to be agreed upon however. Todwong did not say how much the government has set aside to finance the programme.

"You know it's not easy to determine how much you can compensate someone who has, for instance, lost a lip or a hand but we're looking at those details," he said.