Enslaved Child Army Terrorizes Uganda

Moreover, the Acholi have a troubled history with the rest of the nation, Schowengerdt said.

When the British ruled the nation, they mandated that all soldiers had to be over 6 feet tall. Unlike the rest of Uganda's population, which are short and squat, the Acholi are tall and slim — and the Acholi parlayed their positions in the military into subjugating their peers, Schowengerdt said.

When current president Yoweri Museveni took power, many of those who opposed him were Acholi.

In addition, the Ugandan government's efforts against the LRA are now tied up with its difficulties with its northern neighbor, Sudan. The LRA had been receiving support from Sudan, who used it to combat its own rebels, the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Uganda was in turn supporting the SPLA.

The United States has since designated the LRA a terrorist organization, and keen to win the support of Washington, Sudan has cut off its support, Rone said.

In March of this year, the Ugandan government launched Operation "Iron Fist" designed to wipe out the LRA — but according to most reports, the government has been unsuccessful, stymied by the rebels' mobility, and knowledge of their homelands.

Seeing a bloody stalemate in the works, many Ugandans have suggested a general amnesty for the LRA, despite its atrocities. But the government, by most accounts, has been squirrelly in its negotiations.

"Musevni doesn't want to lower himself to talk to a terror leader, to talk to a brutal killer," Rone said.

On the other hand, the rebels want nothing more than respect, said Opiyo Oloya, a Ugandan journalist living in Toronto. "They simply want to come out with their heads held high and not to be seen as defeated," he said.

For Oloya, it's an urgent matter. His family is Acholi, and in 1997, his parents were forced from their home by the conflict. It's the place where he grew up, and where his parents lived for a half-century.

The government moved them into what can be described as a refugee camp, and they eventually made their way to safety in the capital, Kampala, where they are trying to re-establish their lives — and their community.

"Acholis are only strong because of their social connectedness," he said. "We're going to lose a whole generation of people."

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