After rural home stays we returned to Soroti, and from there met with a group of people who took us to Amuria district to gain a deeper understanding of the conflict going on in the northern third of Uganda. Amuria is unique in that not only has it been affected by the LRA it has also seen frequent raids from the Karamaojong. The Karamoja are tribe living on the Uganda-Kenya border, they are herders who are just as likely to increase there herds through cattle rustling as they are through breeding. The cattle raids often become violent.
Even though LRA is no longer very active in the area the Karamoja still pose enough of a threat that most people have chosen to live in IDP camps around Amuria town. At the height of the conflict this small town swelled from 6000 to 30000-50000 inhabitants. As one might imagine such a large increase in population created shortages of resources like food and water, a forced people into cramped quarters occupying the property of schools, church lands, government buildings, and medical facilities.
The community remains deeply scared by the LRA attacks, and there is deep fear that they will return. We met with a woman who had two sons kidnapped by the LRA one has returned one has not. This in when added to the Karamoja threat is the reason that some many will not live the safe if pitiful existence of camp life. Life camps radically alters peoples very identities, it turns normally honest and generous people in to those who will lie, steal, and horde to hold onto the resources they need (and having seen the situation one can hardly blame them.
Poverty in the north in the north is far more pervasive then in other parts of this already poor country. It is hard to describe in words the situation here. Try to imagine a total lack of resources and add to it a total lack of hope and that will give a good starting spot for understanding the situation here. Even then this is not as bad as it gets. Things are far worse further north around Gulu and Kitgum. Which has been the center of the LRA conflict for twenty years.
To find out more about this conflict and those affected by it (especially Children) visit: