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Journal ArticleDOI

Abducted: The Lord's Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda


TL;DR: The Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations launched The Database Project to better document abduction and help improve the capacity of 8 reception centers in the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac, and Lira to collect and analyzes the overall incidence of abduction.
Abstract: Since the late 1980s, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a spiritualist rebel group with no clear political agenda, has abducted tens of thousands of children and adults to serve as porters and soldiers. Experience of forced conscription into the LRA is traumatic and varies in scope and intensity. Children and youth – some as young as 7 and 8 years old – have been forced to mutilate and kill civilians, including members of their own families and communities. In 1994, a group of parents of abducted children to establish the Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO), a reception center in Gulu that provides medical care, counseling, and a number of other services. More than 20,000 children and youth have since passed through GUSCO and other reception centers throughout northern Uganda. In December 2005, the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations launched The Database Project to better document abduction and help improve the capacity of 8 reception centers in the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac, and Lira to collect and analyze information about former LRA abductees. At the time, these centers were still providing housing and care to hundreds of children and youth. This report presents the findings of the project, which analyzes the overall incidence of abduction based on those data and provides recommendations aimed at improving the process of reintegrating former LRA abductees into their communities.

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UC Berkeley
Reports
Title
Abducted: The Lord's Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda
Permalink
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7963c61v
Authors
Pham, Phuong
Vinck, Patrick
Stover, Eric
Publication Date
2007-06-01
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University of California

ABDUCTED
The Lord’s Resistance Army
and Forced Conscription
in Northern Uganda
JUNE 2007
Human Rights Center
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations
Payson Center for International Development
Tulane University

Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations
Human Rights Center
University of California, Berkeley
&
Payson Center for International Development
Tulane University
The Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations conducts research in countries experiencing serious
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. We use empirical research methods to give
voice to survivors of mass violence. We work to ensure that the needs of survivors are recognized and acted
on by governments, U.N. agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. We help improve the capacity of
local organizations to collect and analyze data about vulnerable populations so that their human rights can be
protected.
The Berkeley-Tulane Initiative has undertaken a range of projects. At present, the Initiative is
• assisting centers for former child soldiers in Northern Uganda improve their capacity to collect and analyze
data and provide follow-up services to returnees;
• helping the Victims and Witnesses Unit of the International Criminal Court develop questionnaires to improve
their services for witnesses;
• assisting Human Rights Watch improve its capacity to collect and analyze empirical data on violations of
human rights; and
• collaborating with the International Center for Transitional Justice to conduct research on transitional justice
mechanisms in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Uganda.
The Initiative provides fellowships to graduate students with empirical research skills at the University of
California, Berkeley and Tulane University to work with our partnering institutions.
The Initiative is supported through grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Omidyar
Network, and The Sandler Family Supporting Foundation.
Photographs by Thomas W. Morley, Exile Images, www.exileimages.co.uk.

Abducted
The Lord’s Resistance Army and Forced Conscription
in Northern Uganda
June 2007
Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations
By
Phuong Pham
Patrick Vinck
Eric Stover

Table of Contents
Executive Summary................................................................................................................ 1
Introduction............................................................................................................................. 5
The Database Project.............................................................................................................. 7
Methodology.......................................................................................................................... 7
Data Source ........................................................................................................................ 7
Data Integration.................................................................................................................. 8
Limitations............................................................................................................................. 9
A Non-Probability Sampling of Former Abductees........................................................... 9
Missing Data ...................................................................................................................... 9
Duplication....................................................................................................................... 10
Findings.................................................................................................................................. 11
Demographics...................................................................................................................... 11
Length of Abduction............................................................................................................ 11
Period of Abduction............................................................................................................. 13
Geography of Abduction ..................................................................................................... 14
Experience of Abduction..................................................................................................... 18
Maternity and Abduction ................................................................................................. 18
Exposure to Violence ....................................................................................................... 18
Estimating the Total Number of Abductions....................................................................... 20
Counting the Abducted..................................................................................................... 20
Conclusions and Recommendations.................................................................................... 23
Annex 1: Center Information .............................................................................................. 26
Annex 2: Community Canvassing Database ...................................................................... 45
Annex 3: Authors and Acknowledgements ........................................................................ 46
Tables
Table 1: Reception Centers Databases...................................................................................... 8
Table 2: Aggregated Database.................................................................................................. 9
Table 3: Factors Associated with Length of Abduction ......................................................... 13
Table 4: Experience of Violence............................................................................................. 19
Table 5: Reasons for Torture and Killing in the LRA ............................................................ 19
Table 6: Abduction Figures from Multiple Sources ............................................................... 21
Figures
Figure 1: Age-Gender Distribution of Returned Abductees................................................... 11
Figure 2: Gender and Length of Abduction............................................................................ 12
Figure 3: Length of Abduction Across Age and Gender (Average Number of Days) ........... 13
Figure 4: Abduction, Escape, and Return Over Time............................................................. 14
Figure 5: Map of Formerly Abducted People (FAP) by Subcounty of Origin....................... 16
Figure 6: Formerly Abducted People (FAP) per 10,000 People by Subcounty of Origin...... 17
Figure 7: Year of Abduction among FAP at Caritas Gulu...................................................... 27
Figure 8: Abduction and Escape Registered at CPA Gulu ..................................................... 32

Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: What is the political legacy of violent conflict? This paper presents evidence for a link between war, violence and increased individual political participation and leadership among former combatants and victims of violence, and uses this link to understand the deeper determinants of individual political behavior. The setting is northern Uganda, where rebel recruitment methods generated quasi-experimental variation in who became a rebel conscript and who did not. Original survey data shows that the exogenous element of conscription (by abduction) leads to significantly greater political participation later in life. The principal determinant of this increased political participation, moreover, appears to be war violence experienced. Meanwhile, abduction and violence do not appear to affect multiple non-political types of community participation. I show that these patterns are not easily explained by models of participation based on simple rational preferences, social preferences, mobilization by elites, or information availability. Only 'expressive' theories of participation appear consistent with the patterns observed, whereby exposure to violence augments the value a person places on the act of political expression itself. The implications for general theories of political participation are discussed.

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Cites background from "Abducted: The Lord's Resistance Arm..."

  • ...Abduction from 1995 to 2004 was large scale and indiscriminate, with 60,000 to 80,000 youth estimated to have been taken by the LRA for at least a day (Annan, Blattman, and Horton 2006; Pham, Vinck, and Stover 2007)....

    [...]


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Christopher Blattman1, Jeannie Annan1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Little is known about the impacts of military service on human capital and labor market outcomes due to an absence of data as well as sample selection: recruits are self-selected, screened, and selectively survive. We examine the case of Uganda, where rebel recruitment methods provide exogenous variation in conscription. Economic and educational impacts are widespread and persistent: schooling falls by nearly a year, skilled employment halves, and earnings drop by a third. Military service seems to be a poor substitute for schooling. Psychological distress is evident among those exposed to severe war violence and is not limited to ex-combatants.

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Christopher Blattman1Institutions (1)
Abstract: What is the political legacy of violent conflict? I present evidence for a link from past violence to increased political engagement among excombatants. The evidence comes from northern Uganda, where rebel recruitment generated quasiexperimental variation in who was conscripted by abduction. Survey data suggest that abduction leads to substantial increases in voting and community leadership, largely due to elevated levels of violence witnessed. Meanwhile, abduction and violence do not appear to affect nonpolitical participation. These patterns are not easily explained by conventional theories of participation, including mobilization by elites, differential costs, and altruistic preferences. Qualitative interviews suggest that violence may lead to personal growth and political activation, a possibility supported by psychological research on the positive effects of traumatic events. Although the generalizability of these results requires more evidence to judge, the findings challenge our understanding of political behavior and point to important new avenues of research.

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Abstract: What are the impacts of war on the participants, and do they vary by gender? Are ex-combatants damaged pariahs who threaten social stability, as some fear? Existing theory and evidence are both inconclusive and focused on males. New data and a tragic natural quasi-experiment in Uganda allow us to estimate the impacts of war on both genders, and assess how war experiences affect reintegration success. As expected, violence drives social and psychological problems, especially among females. Unexpectedly, however, most women returning from armed groups reintegrate socially and are resilient. Partly for this reason, postconflict hostility is low. Theories that war conditions youth into violence find little support. Finally, the findings confirm a human capital view of recruitment: economic gaps are driven by time away from civilian education and labor markets. Unlike males, however, females have few civilian opportunities and so they see little adverse economic impact of recruitment.

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TL;DR: Among these former child soldiers, posttraumatic resilience was associated with lower exposure to domestic violence, lower guilt cognitions, less motivation to seek revenge, better socioeconomic situation in the family, and more perceived spiritual support.
Abstract: The present research examines posttraumatic resilience in extremely exposed children and adolescents based on interviews with 330 former Ugandan child soldiers (age = 11-17, female = 48.5%). Despite severe trauma exposure, 27.6% showed posttraumatic resilience as indicated by the absence of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and clinically significant behavioral and emotional problems. Among these former child soldiers, posttraumatic resilience was associated with lower exposure to domestic violence, lower guilt cognitions, less motivation to seek revenge, better socioeconomic situation in the family, and more perceived spiritual support. Among the youth with significant psychopathology, many of them had symptoms extending beyond the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, in keeping with the emerging concept of developmental trauma disorder. Implications for future research, intervention, and policy are discussed.

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