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Ugandan Abducted Children Return From Sudan

2003.09.23
Ugandan Abducted Children Return From Sudan September 19 2003, Kampala - A group of 6 children and youth who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda have returned from Sudan, UNICEF Uganda announced today. The ages of the members of the group range from 12 to 22 years. All were abducted from Uganda as children, between 1997 and 2002. After arrival at Entebbe, the group was taken to reception centres in Gulu where they will be provided with psycho-social counselling by the Gulu Support for Children Organisation (GUSCO) and World Vision. Despite the risk of torture or death for attempts to escape from the LRA, some children do manage.com to escape. Between 2000 and 2003, a total of 368 people, most of them children, managed to escape from the LRA in southern Sudan and all have since returned to Uganda, through a repatriation programme operated by UNICEF and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The return of former LRA prisoners through Khartoum, Sudan is being co-ordinated through the Humanitarian Aid Commission, which was set up by the Government of Sudan and is assisted by UNICEF, the Save the Children Alliance and IOM. However, the vast majority of children abducted by the LRA who manage to escape do so in northern and, more recently, in eastern Uganda. Since the return of LRA in force to northern Uganda in mid-2002, at least 7,000 children have been abducted, and half of those are missing. Many are feared dead. Hundreds more have been abducted since June 2003 in eastern Uganda. Earlier this week, UNICEF Uganda facilitated the return of 12 children abducted from Katakwi District back from Gulu where they escaped and had received support from GUSCO and from the Concerned Parents Association. UNICEF Representative Martin Mogwanja said "The continued return of children from Sudan offers hope for parents of abducted children throughout Uganda. UNICEF urges the LRA to see the safe return of these children to their families as proof of the success of the reintegration programme for former LRA, that all LRA fighters should take advantage of. UNICEF strongly appeals to the LRA to engage in dialogue to end the conflict in Uganda in the shortest possible time and meanwhile to immediately release all abducted children. The abduction of children in northern Uganda by the LRA remains one of the most heinous crimes committed against children in the world today." **********
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