UNICEF calls for release of child soldiers by Ugandan rebel group

During the decade long guerrilla-war of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against the Ugandan government, the LRA has abducted nearly 10,000 children to be used as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, according to UNICEF. Many thousands are thought to have died in LRA captivity. “The abduction of children by the LRA is an intolerable situation that has dragged on for years. It is time for the LRA, as well as those that have influence with the LRA to bring about the safe, immediate and unconditional release of these children,” said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. “With renewed fighting under way, children could well be on the front lines.”Ms. Bellamy stressed that all parties to the conflict have an obligation to protect children, and noted that the situation was ripe for change. The number of LRA abductions has dropped over the past three years, and Uganda and the Sudan have renewed diplomatic relations. “This encourages us to look for a breakthrough on behalf of all the children caught in this conflict,” Bellamy said. Children abducted in northern Uganda have been forced to march to LRA camps in neighbouring southern Sudan, many perish from disease and starvation on the way. Also, the children are made to take part in brutal acts of violence, sometimes being forced to help beat or hack to death a fellow child captive attempting to escape. read more