The war in northern Uganda between the government of President Yoweri Museveni and the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has devastated millions of lives whose effects will continue to be felt for generations to come.
Furthermore, northern Uganda exhibits the highest prevalence of severe mental illness than any other place in the world. The length of the conflict, its brutality towards civilians, and mass displacement are all to blame, say the researchers.
In Ngom-Oromo parish, Lukung sub county in Lamwo district, eights women scarred for life continue to live with their traumatic experiences, humiliation, and pain of being ridiculed by society.
It was on February 20th, 2005, a day still fresh in their minds, that a group of men dressed in military uniform captured them whilst they were fetching water at a waterwell in a place called Nimu.
The women, who were ten in number, believed the men to be LRA rebels who ordered them to lie down on the floor and started cutting off their lips one at a time.
“One of our friends was killed instantly when she cried for her baby, who was removed away from her before they could cut her lips,” says Ms Sylvia Alal, one of the survivors.
Alal told this reporter that all of them had their lips cut off using one knife, as they were forced to sit in a circle surrounded by their abductors to stop them from running.
Alal added that after the incident they were left at the scene and were rescued by a group of residents who had gone to collect water and found them bleeding helplessly.
“We were left helpless bleeding and our rescuers came after an hour and we were taken to the hospital,” she said.
Ms Scovia Acan, 30, a mother of three said they have been left disfigured for life and to compound to their misery, some of them were rejected by their husbands after seeking treatment.
“Though, we received the surgery in 2008, many of us still have the pain especially when it comes to hard work, we have no alternative because we are the bread winners in our homes,” she said.
She added that some of them lost their husbands during the war and are not being supported by anyone in anyway, so they have to fend for themselves and their families.
Grace Aboka, 33, says that there was stigmatization at the beginning. In some cases their husbands were being advised by their in-laws to reject them because of their disfigurement.
“My husband stood by me when his relatives advised him to chase me that I will bring bad omen in the family,” she said.
The conflict in the north resulted in mass war crimes, gross violation of human rights, and unprecedented loss of lives. Commentators have even referred to the conflict as genocide. It is estimated that over two million people were forced into internment camps, where thousands loss their lives due to the squalid conditions.
It is believed that over 25,000 people were maimed at the height of the war. Between 2004 and 2006, the Plastic Surgery team of Mulago hospital were able to perform surgeries on 34 victims; of these 23 were females and 11 were males. By A Web design Company
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