Uganda: Life in the bush with the LRA
17 January 2008

Many refugee children in northern Uganda were either displaced again or abducted by the LRA. (Angela Hellmuth/JRS)
Whenever the Ugandan army caught sight of us, they began to fire and many abductees lost their lives.
Kitgum, 17 January 2008 – I was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in May 2004 from Alua refugee settlement in Adjumani [northern Uganda] at around midnight. 

On that very day they confiscated all our properties such as clothes and food and we travelled with them the whole night carrying about 35 kg of dry maize, which they had confiscated from our home.

The following morning all abductees were severely beaten and they put oil on our chest because they believed that the oil would change our heart and make us forget about escaping home. 

Then we travelled almost one week without resting unless for cooking, and they would kill us if we rested. 

Life in the bush 

I faced so many problems while living in the bush. We were bugged by mosquitoes and slept on leaves without bed sheets while the big people had fine bed sheets and a mosquito net. 

We got ill with malaria and suffered from headaches because of travelling in the heat. We drank dirty water or sometimes no water at all over the whole day. We had problems with the food eating dagga [local] fish and some leaves with sorghum and cassava we confiscated from the villages. 
Whenever the Ugandan army caught sight of us, they began to fire and many abductees lost their lives. Others were rescued by the army. We were forced by the commanders to kill our friends who had been abducted without any reason. 

Forced to kill 

On our way to Kitgum we saw three women in a garden. We were forced to beat them to death and we did so because had we refused they would have killed us. Then we spent five months in Kitgum District, one month in Pader District and the rest in Gulu District. 

I finally escaped from Gulu District on the side of Pabo in January 2005 at around 10pm when everyone was sleeping. I walked the whole night until I reached the main road leading from Gulu to Adjumani. The following morning I used the main road up to Lacor police station. I did not want to report to civilians because I knew they would have killed me. 

At Lacor, the police took my statement and I was taken to the child protection unit in Gulu. After two days I was transferred to the World Vision reception centre. I received counselling services which are meant to help me forget about my experiences in the bush. From the reception centre I was taken to Lacor hospital for treatment because I had terrible pain in my chest and my knee joints and my legs were wounded. 

Going back home 

In March 2005 I was sent home. I could not find my uncle who had paid my school fees before. I have great problems regarding education but now JRS helps me pay my school fees for senior five at Moyo secondary school. If I could afford I would like to move somewhere else because I don’t feel safe in Adjumani District. If I am abducted again they will kill me.