'They told me if I came quietly, they would not kill my parents'

Meera Selva
Saturday 11 August 2012 02:52

"The [LRA] soldiers came at night and just took me away," she said, cradling her two-year-old son. "They told me if I came quietly, they would not kill my parents. I thought I could escape later, but they gave me as a wife to someone who watched me all the time. I saw some other children try to escape but they were beaten to death, so I became scared and decided to stay."

The Lord's Resistance Army is made up mainly of children forced to join a rebel group and wage war against the Ugandan government. Joseph Kony began to target children in the mid-1990s after becoming convinced that any adults who joined him would betray him.

So far, more than 30,000 children have been forced into the rebel group - many have been killed in battle or have died in the bush, unable to cope with the lack of food and the long gruelling marches across the plains. The girls were often raped just after they arrived, and then handed over as "wives" to senior commanders to reward them for battle victories.

"I was given to a husband, even though I didn't want one," Nyeto recalls. "I cried all the time, but the other women told me to be happy because he was better than many of the others. But I think he was not so important because we had no food."

Nyeto's ordeal came to an end when her camp was attacked by the Ugandan army and she was able to surrender.

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