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UGANDA/ John (AVSI): This is our response to Joseph Kony

Children in Ugana  (Infophoto) Children in Ugana (Infophoto)

There were over 20 thousand children abducted, in addition to the many others involved in the conflict in different ways. Today however, many of them have returned to their daily life like other children, and they share the same needs: education; drinking water; means of livelihood; a source of income for their families. Thus, AVSI is supporting communities to build their homes and have access to drinking water. We have helped local governments to properly organize the health system, but at the same time there is a need to create sources of income. The families of former refugees must find a way to earn something to meet their many needs, and that is what AVSI focuses on. From my point of view, Kony is an example of the fact that if we do not work to support the humanity of these people, in the future we can expect the arrival of a new Kony. It is therefore much more important to take care of people because this is how you can create an environment where peace is sustainable.

What might the psychological consequences of the video "Kony 2012" be for former child soldiers?
These children have suffered a series of traumas. Many of them have left the war behind and have spent nights in the woods, with forced marches, fleeing from those who wanted to kill them, and that drama will always be in their minds. This is why it is very important to support them, accompany them and give them an education. I can understand that it is right and important to capture Kony, but even more important is the fact that, in Northern Uganda, there are 2 million former refugees who are trying to return to their normal lives. In particular, there is a whole generation of kids who have lived their childhood in the war, and that today would like to attend school and lead the typical life of any normal child. It is therefore necessary to do much more for them than for other children.

What was your experience of the past 26 years of war?
What especially struck me were the child commuters who had to traverse long distances to go to school because at that time there were few places where it was safe to spend the night. Among these were the mission hospitals, where children went to sleep every night and to get something to eat. Moreover, the places where services were available were limited, because many non-profit organizations could not venture into many parts of northern Uganda, for fear that their personnel would be kidnapped by rebels. It was, therefore, a restless period, without peace, during which people could not go outside, or feel safe in their homes, and so were forced to flee elsewhere.

(Pietro Vernizzi)

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