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Wednesday,August 12,2020 18:40 PM

Ugandan children part of the jury

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th April 2001 03:00 AM

The children in the jury for The World's Children Prize are experts in the Rights of the Child.

The children in the jury for The World's Children Prize are experts in the Rights of the Child.

The children in the jury for The World's Children Prize are experts in the Rights of the Child. These are the two Ugandan children who are part of the jury which each year shall decide which person or organisation has made the most important contributions to the rights of the child. Children from all parts of the world and the great religions are members of the jury. They represent first of all themselves and the world's children in general, but also groups of children who have specific experiences in the struggle for the rights of the child - those, for instance who have been the victims of violation of their rights. Lina Akello is now 17. When she was 13 she was kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. She had just completed her primary leaving examinations. The rebels abduct children to train them as child soldiers. Lina was forced to march three days into Sudan. There she was compelled to train and work long and heavy hours. Those who could not manage it - often as young as 9 - were killed. The rebels forced other children to kill them under the threat that they themselves would be killed, if they did not do as bidden. Children could also be killed, if they tried to escape or if the rebels did not like them. "I avoided having to kill anyone, but I saw other children kill and killed. I learned to use weapons and was forced to drink the urine of other children instead of water. We were often beaten. Many girl soldiers were sexually violated. "I myself was forced to be 'wife' to a man who was old enough to be my father. If I had not agreed to this, they would have killed me." Akello ran away when she was 14 and five months pregnant. Now she and her daughter Mercy live with Akello's sister. Akello attends Gusco, a rehabilitation centre for child soldiers. She wants to continue school and train to be a nurse. Akello represents child soldiers and children in war. Charles Opiro, 15, has experienced things as terrible as has Akello. When Akello becomes too old next year to serve in the Children's Jury (limit 18) Opiro alone will represent child soldiers. When Opiro was 10, in 1996, he was on his way home from school when he was kidnapped by rebels. He was taken to Sudan and given military training. He was then sent into combat to prove that he had learned his lessons. Often he was so hungry that he was forced to live on plants and roots. He slept in the cold and rain without protection. He was sent home to Uganda to steal, burn houses and kill. Sometimes he was forced to march five days in a row without food or water. Several child soldiers died during these marches. After four years Opiro was able to escape. After a time at the Gusco Centre for former child soldiers, where he was able to relate his experiences and once again be a child, he is now attending primary four in school, the class he attended when he was taken away. Ends

Ugandan children part of the jury

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