Congo: rebels free 22 kidnapped children

A group of 22 children, aged about 10 and 11 were  freed by Lord’s Resistance Army  rebels last night. Father Romano Segalini, a Comboni missionary in Watsa, near the Ugandan border, said: “They are traumatized and some are in bad health. They went through a terrible ordeal but they are with us now and we will try to help them find hope again”.

Father Segalini said that 12 rebels surrendered the children to the military in Lukuku, near the Durba mining area. They have been taken into the children's centre that he manages for the diocese of Dondi.

Most of the children come from the nearby area, except one Sudanese girl, whose parents are refugees left homeless after an LRA raid.  While everyone was overjoyed to have the children back, Fr Segalini said they were shocked to learn how they have been treated. Most of the children have been forced to live in the forest for a year or more.

“Some have wounds and they showed us the scars resulting from the violence, while all the girls have been raped,” said the missionary. “But now we will try to treat their wounds and help them overcome the trauma. It will be a long process, but we are hoping to make it”.

The missionaries have already started to search for the children's families in the hopes of reuniting them, where possible.

Missionaries report that in spite of two years of peace talks in the South Sudan, the LRA is continuing to harass and terrorise  rural areas, kidnapping and killing.  An unsuccessful military campaign by the armies of the DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan has failed to defeat them, and the war which has now spread to various parts of these countries and the Central African Republic.

Source: MISNA/enoughproject

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