For 20 years,northern Uganda was one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child. There, a man named Joseph Kony and his commandoes have wreaked havoc on an entire generation of children. Joseph Kony can only be described as one of the worst incarnations of evil the earth has seen. Claiming to receive his directions from angels, one of whom was associated with Idi Amin, Kony has named his guerilla troops the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The "lord" he serves is certainly not the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one is clear who or what he is resisting. He claims to be fighting to bring down the Ugandan government of Museveni and claims to be fighting for the Acholi tribesmen of the north who were neglected under colonial rule. The truth is, he has just as often been found attacking the Acholi as anyone else. His attacks have shown no discernible pattern of reason and can only be described as brutal and devastating.
At long last, in recent years Kony and his cohorts have moved out of Uganda, allowing the land to begin rebuilding at last. Good news for Uganda, but terrible news for neighboring DR Congo and South Sudan, because he has only moved his terror to those unhappy lands.
Stealing from children--their families, their hopes, their futureThe LRA has kidnapped about 30,000 children in northern Uganda. Kony's main generals are almost all children kidnapped and trained by his forces. Coercing a child to become a combat soldier is bad enough. Kony's tactics go well beyond that. To toughen up the children, break their bonds with family and society, and to tie their consciences and their hopes to him alone, Kony usually forces children to kill or maim family members or other kidnapped children soon after capture. He then tells them that since they have done such atrocious things, they can never be forgiven or accepted again by society. Their only hope is now with him. Kidnapped children are marched for a week or more without food into his training camps in southern Sudan. Denied water, they are forced to drink muddy ground water or urine in order to survive. There they are trained to shoot, cut off lips, noses and limbs, and to accept the word of their commanders without question. They are then sent out to spread the kind of terror they themselves experienced.
The "Invisible Children" or Night Commuters
His forces usually strike at night in small villages, so for years it was unsafe for any child in northern Uganda to sleep with his family. Tens of thousands of children began "night commuting", walking for hours into towns. The fortunate ones crowd into shelters provided by Christian and humanitarian agencies, where they lay back-to-back like sardines in a can. Some of the agencies enclosed their shelters with razor wire and provided armed guards. The unfortunate children had to sleep on the street. There, many of them were subject to theft, beating, and rape, but none of these are as bad as being inducted into the LRA. These "night commuters" were called "invisible children" because when night falls, they seemed to appear in droves in the cities, as if from nowhere. Thank God that with the peace of the last few years, former night commuters now sleep with their own families once again.
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