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Former Rebels Struggle to Reintegrate in Communities Across Nebbi

The reporters are mostly from the Uganda Homeland Liberation Movement-UHLM, a DRC-based rebel group led by Howard Openjuru, a born of Paidha district who had earlier on been arrested and arraigned before the General Court Martial on charges of treason.
An elderly former UHLM rebel after handing himself to Ugandan Authorities in Nebbi this Year 1.

Audio 3

Persons who have denounced rebellion from the Democratic Republic of Congo are failing to fit in their communities despite efforts by the Amnesty Commission to have them reintegrated.

The reporters are mostly from the Uganda Homeland Liberation Movement-UHLM, a DRC-based rebel group led by Howard Openjuru, a born of Paidha district who had earlier on been arrested and arraigned before the General Court Martial on charges of treason.

The group was reportedly behind the raid at the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) detach at Oduk in Zombo district, where three soldiers were killed, and for the attack Gulu Central Police Station where they killed several Police officers.

But a number of them denounced rebellion and returned home through the amnesty commission. But they say that they have been stigmatised and isolated from within their communities and are now appealing to the Amnesty Commission and local security personnel to intervene and save them from being treated as outcasts in their own land.

Khemis Opiyo, a truck driver who recently defected from the rebel group and now resides in Nebbi Municipality says he was lured to join the group after big promises for a better life. Opiyo drove a vehicle and led a team that attempted to attack Koch Army Barracks in April this year before the group was repulsed.

Opiyo then fled to join the rebels in DR Congo while his colleagues were hunted down, arrested and were taken to Gulu Prison.  After returning home from DR Congo, Opiyo says he has found life hard as he struggles to get a job because he is being called a rebel. This he says has continued to discourage him from associating with communities where he lives.

//Cue in; I’m jobless, they give me...

Cue out...that’s how I survive."//

Santos Oloya, another former rebel and resident of Angal Upper says that his children, particularly the girls, accuse him of ‘selling their uncle to the rebels’, yet his brother went alone and he never had a hand in having him walkway from the family members to join the rebel activities. 

Patrick Oryema, another rebel defector from Ndhew Sub County says that the community thinks the government has favoured them a lot and they now have everything to make them live a much better life after waging war. According to Oryema, the returnees are being isolated by some of their relatives and community members on basis of the support in terms of farming tools they have received from the government through the Amnesty Commission.

Meanwhile, the Nebbi Deputy District Internal Security Officer Ronald Byansi said the returnees should not consider themselves so special after reintegration into their respective communities but should emulate a lifestyle similar to that of the people in the communities. Byansi has also called on the former rebels to report to the security personnel any threats and stigma they face from the communities after their return home.

// Cue in; Is as if you want to...

Cue out... see the way forward."// 

However, Moses Draku the Public Relations Officer of the Amnesty Commission in West Nile, said it is necessary to intensify sensitization following the attacks on the people of Zombo and Nebbi districts.

//Cue in; These are challenges to us...

Cue out... grievances to discuss."//

Records show that 27,000 former rebels have successfully been demobilized in Uganda since the start of the demobilization and reintegration program of the Amnesty Commission in 2000. Of these, up to 22,000 have already received their resettlement packages.

In the West Nile alone, about 9,600 have been demobilized while 6,400 certificates have been issued. 2,540 of them have since been reintegrated. 6,400 from the former West Nile Bank Front while former Uganda National Rescue Front-UNRF II has over 3,000 who embraced Amnesty.