AUGUST 31, 2009: UNICEF Meets With Children Terrorized By LRA

Unicef Chief Meets with Children Terrorized by Ugandan Rebels

SOURCE: UN News Service

The people of the far northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo live in constant fear of attacks from a notorious rebel group from neighbouring Uganda, the head of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today after visiting the region.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman traveled to Dungu, a remote Congolese village near the border with Sudan and Uganda where over 300,000 people have been uprooted by clashes in a region terrorized by the rebels known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"The LRA is notorious for kidnapping children, forcing them to kill and maim innocent victims and enslaving young girls as their concubines," she said after talking with children who had been abducted by the rebels.

Ms. Veneman met with a former child soldier living with a foster family in Dungu whose seriously-infected foot prevented him from keeping up with the daily long-distance treks with the LRA.

"The rebels taunted him and then severely beat him and left him behind," she said, adding that he was stranded for days without food and water before he was found.

The UNICEF head said she has been encouraged by the strength and resilience of the LRA victims. "While I was horrified by the violence inflicted on these children, I was inspired by the sheer will and determination of the community to help."...

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