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Caritas Australia launches Uganda appeal

Caritas Australia yesterday launched a special appeal to help rehabilitate the estimated 14,000 children who have been abducted by the Lord's Republican Army (LRA) and used as soldiers, labourers and sex slaves in Northern Uganda.

Caritas Australia Africa Programs Coordinator Scott Martin said funds donated will be used to provide social and material support for the ex child soldiers.

He said Australian funds will support Caritas Uganda's 'Child Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program', which will focus its work in the north of Uganda, an area which has been economically, socially and culturally devastated by the activities of the LRA.

Mr Martin said that due to the particularly brutal practices that the LRA has forced many of these children to take part in, they are not only seriously traumatised by their experiences, but their own communities and families may reject them.

"The LRA raids settlements, abducting children who are then indoctrinated, drugged and intimidated to fight as 'soldiers'. Many of the abducted girls are forced to become 'wives' (sex slaves) to the LRA commanders," he said.

The LRA has terrorised northern Uganda since the late 1980s. Formed in opposition to the Ugandan government, the LRA under the leadership of Joseph Kony holds no apparent ideological stance and strikes without warning on unsuspecting villagers.

Large numbers of people have sought refuge from the LRA in displacement camps only to be attacked in these settlements. Other people work their farms or attend school during the day then make their way to large regional centres to sleep in safety at night.

Donations can be made by contacting 1800 024 413.

Caritas Australia launches Uganda appeal (Caritas Australia 2/6/04)

Cardinal Martino amid ex child soldiers, clergy and staff and patients at Lachor Hospital (Missionary Service News Agency 1/6/04)
Violence Can't Drive Out Violence, Papal Envoy Tells Ugandans (Zenit 1/6/04)
Uganda massacre death toll passes 250 (CathNews 25/2/04)

Italian priest calls lack of media focus on Ugandan conflict 'a sin' (Catholic News Service 9/2/04)
Uganda (Catholic Relief Services)
Uganda (CAFOD)

3 Jun 2004