Uganda's invisible children
Melissa Parker, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will give the talk: Uganda’s invisible children: Reintegration, rejection and disappearance after life with the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.
The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom.
Northern Uganda has been affected by war and conflict for decades, with around 30,000 young people being abducted or joining the Lord’s Resistance Army between 1996 and 2000.
Humanitarian assistance programmes proliferated as funding escalated, particularly after the Invisible Children campaign caught the attention of millions of people worldwide. Those returning from the LRA passed through aid-financed reception centres. Endeavours were then made to reunite them with their parents and relatives, who were mostly living in insecure displacement camps. Few were subsequently visited.
This talk draws on long term ethnographic research and interviews with 234 children and young adults who received care at the largest reception centre in northern Uganda. It is suggested that the vast majority of ex-combatants now feel rejected by relatives, friends and neighbours. Possession by spirits (cen), and fear of cen, shape social relationships in fraught and distressing ways. Additionally, humanitarian agencies have done little to foster processes enabling social re-integration. Indeed, by locating ex-combatants with their relatives, they have rendered them invisible. It is a disturbing case of humanitarian impunity.
More about Melissa Parker and her work.