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Ex-child soldier Dominic Ongwen appears before the International Criminal Court

A former militia leader from northern Uganda has denied committing war crimes including rape and murder, on the opening day of his trial at the international criminal court at The Hague, saying that as a child soldier taken by force from his home by the organisation he was a victim of its atrocities, not a perpetrator.

Dominic Ongwen, once a feared commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, told judges in a dramatic outburst that he was “one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities”. He said: “In the name of God, I deny all these charges.”


Girl Soldiers: Forgotten Casualties of War


As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was visibly shaken by sexual crimes against women and girls when she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2009. Sexual crimes in this central African country, known as the “rape capital of the world,” include the sexual exploitation of tens of thousands of girls abducted and trapped as child soldiers. Nonetheless, since 2010, President Obama has waived a congressionally mandated ban on military aid to countries known to exploit child soldiers, among them the DRC.


Uganda: Visiting the rehabilitation centre using art as therapy for children freed from a brutal militia

By Jacqui Thornton, The Independent 

The pictures are drawn in a childish hand, but they are visions that no child should have to witness: militia shooting captives tied to trees; army helicopters above firing on their enemy; the central African bush in flames.

These are all artworks produced by children held in captivity after they, or their parents, were abducted by the feared Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. Many of those taken spent years in the bush, constantly on the move to evade capture, walking barefoot carrying heavy loads for the commanders and even fighting for the militia.


Documentary: Moving on – Surviving Lord Resistance Army

Trigger warning: this video includes footage of people talking about abuse against children, murder and abduction.

Moving on – Surviving Lord Resistance Army is an intimate and honest documentary on what it means for children and youth to be forced into cruel situations. The documentary demonstrates the need for children to process their experiences, to find a way of living and their deep wish to contribute to a better society and future for all.

Annette Giertsen - Monday 2 June 2014

Documentary: Moving on – Surviving Lord Resistance Army

Abductions by Uganda's LRA rebels on the rise – UN

Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels have launched a string of attacks across central Africa with a "steady increase" in abductions, the United Nations said in a report seen Thursday.

The elusive jungle insurgents, who raid villages and enslave residents, have abducted 432 people so far this year, a "steady increase" from last year and more than double the number in 2012, the report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) read.

Those captured, often children, are forced to work as fighters, sex slaves or porters.

Long driven out of Uganda, small bands of LRA fighters now roam forest regions of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, launching over 150 attacks and killing at least 22 people this year.


Studies explore effects of war on former child soldiers

Young soldiers from a Ugandan supported Congolese rebel movement group, sing liberation songs waving their rifles in this photo in the north eastern Congolese town of Bunia. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Society for Research in Child Development

Despite international bans, more than 250,000 children fight as soldiers in 86 countries across the globe, almost half of them in Africa. Two new studies explored how these children adjust after they return to their homes. Key to successful adaptation, the studies found, was the characteristics of the communities to which the children returned.


Child Soldiers: Learning from Kony2012?

The issue of child soldiers is back on the global agenda, thanks to two major recent developments. In March, Thomas Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court. He was found guilty of forcibly recruiting child soldiers to his Union of Congolese Patriots, known as 'the army of children'. The second, most visible development, was the massive popularity growth of web-based film KONY2012. It aims to raise awareness of the activities of Joseph Kony, the Ugandan warlord who leads the Lord's Resistance Army, calling for the US military to intervene to bring him to justice. Kony and the LRA are known for their brutality and use of child soldiers. Invisible Children's initiative went viral to become an Internet phenomenon. It amassed over 30 million views in 48 hours, at a rate of up to 1 million per hour, mostly in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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