ARUA. Victims leaders of different past wars from across the greater northern Uganda and the Teso sub-region have been trained on leadership and advocacy to instil a collective voice in the quest for transitional justice in the country.
The leaders from Lango, Teso, Acholi and West Nile were selected during a series of victim’s community dialogues conducted between 2018-19 at the respective regions.
Mr Chris Ongom, the coordinator Uganda victim’s foundation (UVF), a coalition of different CSO’s whose aim is to advocate and campaign for accountability of state and non-state actors said previous attempts to bring the victims to speak with one voice had been futile because activities of the different civil society organizations (CSO’s) was not aligned.
While speaking during the two-day training at Hotel Tropical Suites in Arua town on Wednesday, Ongom said they after realizing and correcting the impediment small isolated groups had embarked on sensitization of the victim’s communities to empower them with basic knowledge.
“Today we have reached a climax as a result of our efforts and managed to form the Uganda victims and survivors network because, after sensitization, we realized they now need to speak with a common voice if they are to get the government to listen,” Mr Ongom said.
Ms Alice Etam Muhere, a legal officer with emerging solutions Africa (ESA), an organization premised on the access to substantive justice sustainable livelihood initiatives and public health and partner in the Arua training said the government had been very slow in listening to the plight of the victims.
“We are talking of over 20 years and yet these victims are still asking for the same things, the government has been slow in responding to their issues, different programs under organizations and the government have come and gone and yet these have not helped the victims”, she said.
“Therefore, we came in to offer a link so that the victims can interface directly with the government, development partners and speak directly without being represented by the organizations that only come and go afterwards” she further said of the training.
The victim’s leaders are also expected to attend a high-level policy dialogue engagement later in the year with lawmakers, donors and other development to speak about their plight.
24 –year old Ocen Patrick who was born in the bush under the Lord’s resistance army captivity in South Sudan said children like him without parents to date face stigmatization and discrimination and still need affirmative action to be fully integrated into the community.
“I started school from primary four but there was always threats and chaos because teachers didn’t even understand, anything small thing they would blame it on the children born in the bush so most of them ended on the streets”, Ocen who has since gone to attain University education said.
Ocen said he was only lucky to have football skills that enabled him to attain scholarships in his education circle after being thrown out of different homes.
Mrs Teddyu Alworo, a war victim under the LRA from Teso sub-region said most of the women victims have continued to face discrimination from their communities and need counselling.
Alworo who confessed to having been lucky to be accepted back by the husband after the incidence said most of the victims are poor and uneducated and need special affirmative action to elevate their status.
The training was funded by the international rights organization REDRESS under the foreign affairs of the royal kingdom of the Netherlands.