May 2016 24

US Ambassador to Uganda visits Northern Uganda: a trip to the frontlines

Posted in News

By Francis Opio

As a partner to the US Mission in Uganda, Grassroots Reconciliation Group (GRG) was honored to host the United States Ambassador recently.  During her visit, Ambassador Deborah Malac made statements on local radio that highlighted GRG’s recent programming and approach to reintegration and reconciliation.

Since its inception in 2007, GRG has contributed enormously to the reintegration and reconciliation of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants and returnees in northern Uganda through its bottom-up approach. Recently, GRG received support from the US Department of Defense to implement a radio project aimed at encouraging defections from the LRA and build peace in communities where the returnees have resettled.

On her first field visit to northern Uganda as Ambassador, Ambassador Malac discussed the current LRA defections, reintegration and reconciliation efforts. In her statement on local station Radio Rupiny, she underscored the need “for the remaining members of the LRA to come home, rejoin their families and communities and restart their lives.” She further mentioned that “it is up to Ugandans to decide right mechanisms to reconcile communities”, a statement that highlights GRG’s approach to helping former combatants reintegrate into and reconcile with their communities.

Northern Uganda’s people are still in need of long-term assistance in this process because even as many return to their ancestral homes, they are faced with other, larger problems including trauma, land conflict, stigmatization and sexual and gender-based violence. Without a real commitment from the different stakeholders to invest in reintegration and reconciliation of those who were forced to participate in the LRA’s war in northern Uganda, it will be difficult to move past these horrible years, even if the guns have been silent since the peace talks held in 2006.



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