Whether or not you support the very viral Kony 2012 campaign created by the charity Invisible Children, Joseph Kony and the child-recruiting Lord’s Resistance Army he leads are undeniably brutal. Uganda, where the LRA has long operated, has been ravaged by conflict for decades.
The country suffered grave atrocities under the dictatorial regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s. Since the LRA, a violent religious and military group, began operations in Uganda in 1987, it has abducted and forced about 66,000 children in the country to fight with them, according to the World Bank. Nearly 90 percent of the region's population has been forced to leave their homes. And while the LRA has weakened in recent years, Uganda, with a population of 32 million, continues to suffer from serious human rights problems. A U.S. State Department report in 2010 gave a chilling list of abuses, including arbitrary and vigilante killings, trafficking in persons, sexual abuse of children and the ritual killing of children. It is worth reading the entire list here.
Since BlogPost began covering the Kony 2012 campaign Wednesday, many readers have expressed in e-mails or in the comments that they would like to better know how to help Uganda. Below, we have rounded up a partial list of the many groups doing aid work in the country. Some of these charities have ratings or reviews on Charity Navigator or Great Nonprofits to help you make a choice; others do not. The Web site for Invisible Children is here, or watch their film first below:
Oxfam, an international oganization that works to fight poverty and injustice, focuses in Uganda on supporting people affected by conflict, lobbying for peace and working to better livelihoods, especially in the north. View its Web site here.
The International Rescue Committee Uganda
The IRC works internationally to help people rebuild after humanitarian crises. In Uganda, where the IRC has been since 1998, the committee works to protect women and children from violence and encourages education, peace and development. It also helps small farmers and businesses. View its Web site here.
BRAC says it is the largest NGO operating in Uganda, and has been in the country since 2006. Its focus areas are health and education, women and girl empowerment, and microfinance for the poor. BRAC claims to have reached more than 2 million Ugandans, and says 10,800 students have graduated from its schools, which operate in post-conflict zones in the north. View its Web site here.
The Refugee Law Project (RLP)
The RLP works to ensure human rights for asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons in Uganda. It offers legal aid as well as counseling, clinical and mental health services. View its Web site here.
Grassroots Reconciliation Group (GRG)
GRG works in northern Uganda to rehabilitate former child soldiers and help reconcile them with their communities. The group says it has assisted 525 former child soldiers and their communities on micro-finance, counseling, and livelihood projects such as agriculture and goat-rearing. View its web site here.
African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET)
AYINET provides physical and psychosocial care and rehabilitation in the Uganda’s war-affected northern region. It specifically works to support victims of brutalities suffered at the hands of the LRA, through medical rehabilitation or the promotion of youth leaders who will work for peace and justice. View its Web site here.
Christian Counseling Fellowship (CCF Pader)
CCF is a community-based organization in Pader, northern Uganda. Its goal is to promote Christian values and provide education, child protection, health care and livelihood opportunities to war-affected women and children.View its Web site here.
Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP)
JRP, in Gulu, northern Uganda since 2005, works to empower war-affected communities by getting them to participate in the processes of justice, healing and reconciliation, and involving them in research and advocacy. View its Web site here.
Gulu Support the Children Organisation (GUSCO)
GUSCO is an indigenous NGO that works to promote the well-being of conflict-affected children in the north. It provides psycho-social support, capacity building of communities, education, advocacy and peace-building. View its Web site here.
St. Mary’s Lacor Hosptial
The hospital, founded in 1959 by Catholic missionaries, says it provides diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive medicine services for more than 300,000 patients annually, half of whom are children younger than 6. View its Web site here.
Caritas Uganda provides access to food as well as initiatives for democracy-building, gender equality and HIV/AIDS eradication. View its Web site here.
World: A Uganda special report
BlogPost: The Lord’s Resistance Army: A primer
BlogPost: Kony 2012 campaign gets support of Obama