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Uganda: Information on the location and size of the Acholi in Uganda, and whether the Lord's Resistance Movement recruits from the Acholi

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1996
Citation / Document Symbol UGA22362.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Information on the location and size of the Acholi in Uganda, and whether the Lord's Resistance Movement recruits from the Acholi, 1 January 1996, UGA22362.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad2650.html [accessed 9 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to Ethnologue, there were 646,800 Acholi speakers in Uganda in 1986, representing 4.4 per cent of the population (1992, 407). Uganda: A Country Study states that the Acholi represented 4 per cent (676,000) of Uganda's estimated 16.9 million people in 1990 (1992, 47, 67). Both sources situate the Acholi in north-central Uganda (ibid., 67; Ethnologue 1992, 407). According to a map published by Amnesty International and attached to this Response, the Acholi are found principally in the Gulu and Kitgum Districts (Sept. 1992).

Uganda: A Country Study states that the Holy Spirit Movement, called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) when it was taken over by Joseph Kony, originated as an anti-government movement in the Acholi region, "where warfare and political killings had ravaged society for nearly two decades" (1992, 77).

A 1995 Inter Press Service (IPS) report describes the LRA as a religious sect that appealed to both Acholi farmers and soldiers of former Ugandan president Milton Obote, whose rebel group was defeated by the new Ugandan government in 1987 (15 May 1995).

According to Africa Confidential, the Acholi were "the powerbase for successive unspeakable governments" in Uganda, as well as the army, until the National Resistance Army (NRA) seized power under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni in 1986 (4 Feb. 1987, 2). Since 1986 the NRA-dominated government and army have been fighting several rebel groups in northern Uganda, including various Acholi-based groups (ibid., 1-2). However, Africa Confidential states, without specifying which rebel group, that "it is clear that the rebels do not enjoy the sympathy of all Acholi by any means" (ibid., 1).

Amnesty International drew a similar conclusion in a 1994 report, in which it stated "the LRA appears to have very little popular support amongst the Acholi communities of Gulu or Kitgum District" (Dec. 1994, 1). In the same report Amnesty International states that Ugandan government civilian and military officials tend to assume that all Acholis are rebels, "even where there is no evidence of anti-government violence" (ibid., 5).

In 1992 Amnesty International reported that since 1986, rebel groups operating in northern Uganda, including Joseph Kony's group, had "used abduction as a method both of forcible recruitment and of maintaining pressure on civilians not to cooperate with the authorities" (Sept. 1992, 66).

The Christian Science Monitor reported in 1995 that the LRA abducted civilians, including girls and boys, into its ranks (30 June 1995).

For additional information, please consult the attachments.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Africa Confidential [London]. 4 February 1987. Vol. 28, No. 3. "Uganda: False Messiah."

Amnesty International (AI). December 1994. Uganda: Detentions of Suspected Government Opponents Without Charge or Trial in the North. (AI Index: AFR 59/04/94). London: Amnesty International.

_____. September 1992. Uganda: The Failure to Safeguard Human Rights. (AI Index: AFR 59/05/92). London: Amnesty International.

The Christian Science Monitor [Boston]. 30 June 1995. Joyce Hackel. "'Christian' Rebels Terrorize Uganda." (NEXIS)

Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1992. 12th ed. Edited by Barbara F. Grimes. Dallas, Tex.: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Inter Press Service (IPS). 15 May 1995. Moyiga Nduru. "Sudan-Politics: Khartoum Seeking Support Against Rebels." (NEXIS)

Uganda: A Country Study. 1992. Edited by Rita M. Byrnes. Washington, DC: Secretary of the Army.

Attachments

Africa Confidential [London]. 3 February 1989. Vol. 30, No. 3. "Uganda: Getting Tough in Acholi," pp. 3-4.

_____. 1 April 1988. Vol. 29, No. 7. "Uganda: Unholy Spirit," p. 8.

_____. 4 February 1987. Vol. 28, No. 3. "Uganda: False Messiah," pp. 1-2.

Amnesty International (AI). December 1994. Uganda: Detentions of Suspected Government Opponents Without Charge or Trial in the North. (AI Index: AFR 59/04/94). London: Amnesty International, pp. 1-5.

_____. September 1992. Uganda: The Failure to Safeguard Human Rights. (AI Index: AFR 59/05/92). London: Amnesty International, pp. 63-67.

The Christian Science Monitor [Boston]. 30 June 1995. Joyce Hackel. "'Christian' Rebels Terrorize Uganda." (NEXIS)

New African [London]. December 1994. Epajjar Ojulu. "Uganda: Joseph Kony, Terror of Uganda," p. 34.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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