The conflict in northern Uganda has drawn very many NGOs to the area.
At the forefront are World Vision, a Christian NGO based in New York, started in the Second World War (1938-1945) and the Gulu Support The Children Organisation (GUSCO), an indigenous NGO initiated in 1994 to respond toward the effects of armed conflict on children.
GUSCO has a 13-member board of directors chaired by the minister for security, Betty Akech Okullu who is also the Gulu Woman MP.
Michael Oruni, World Vision centre coordinator, Gulu said: â€œFrom March 1995 to May 18 2004, the programme has handled 9,801 (8,259 male, 1,542 female) formerly abducted persons who were either rescued by UPDF or escaped from the rebels, the majority come from Gulu Kitgum and Pader districts.
Currently we have three projects with two reception centres handling the FCS.
â€œToday we have 487 children in the centre (200 males, 184 females and 103 children born in captivity). And 141 adults in the adult centre.
We have received many children born in captivity, the oldest being 11. Today we received a boy of five, he came without both parents, who are believed to be alive in the bush,â€ Oruni said as he excused himself to find milk for the new toddler.
Julius Tiboa GUSCO programme coordinator said, â€œby March, 2004, 6,863 (1,743 females, 5120 males) children have passed through this reception centre. The total number of children in the reception centre as of June 1, 2004 is 240 (95 females and 119 males).
â€œAbduction of children and mayhem in the population still continue unabated. Efforts at peace building between the government and LRA have been uncoordinated and apparently yielded no tangible results.
In response to the above mentioned situations, GUSCO was initiated to address the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of the war-affected children,â€ Tiboa said.
NGOs speak out about the war