Uganda: an uncivil war
The people of Uganda, affected by decades of civil war, must make do with third rate health services. Michael J Westerhaus reflects on his time in northern Uganda and explains how it shaped his beliefs
- By: Michael J Westerhaus
Northern Uganda is an unsettling locale. Eighteen years of war has devastated the minds, hearts, and vitality of the Acholi people, an ethnic group who endure life amid the harshest of circumstances. The Acholi people have witnessed 20 000 of their children abducted to fight as child soldiers,1 100 000 civilian deaths, and the migration of 1.8 million people into internally displaced people's camps, with limited health and education facilities.2 Current international aid meets 43% of the amount needed to provide minimal humanitarian assistance. 3 Memories of the peace that existed nearly two decades ago create a pining for the chance to reclaim the culture, fertile lands, and comfort of security.
The war in northern Uganda results from a historical tension that has divided northern and southern Uganda since precolonial times. Colonialism institutionalised these differences by dictating distinct occupational roles. Northerners were assigned to military positions, and southerners were given