Human Rights Watch: Uganda

For Immediate Release:

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New Video, Photo Essay Tell Story of Uganda's Child "Night Commuters"

(New York, August 22, 2005) -- Human Rights Watch has documented the plight of Uganda's lost generation of children in a new video, "Night Commuters: Uganda's Forgotten Children of War." A powerful photo essay by Bruno Stevens accompanies the video.

The video spotlights the phenomenon of tens of thousands of children in northern Uganda who walk miles every day to avoid abduction by rebel troops. The video shows the children embarking from their villages on long journeys in search of a safe place to sleep in urban areas.

Human Rights Watch takes an unflinching look at the harrowing conditions of the children's lives through original footage and interviews. The situation in northern Uganda has resulted in a pervasive climate of fear. Since 1986, 30,000 boys and girls have been abducted in northern Uganda and forced to become child soldiers and sex slaves. The group that is responsible for these atrocities, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has waged war against the Ugandan government for nearly two decades.

Once abducted by the LRA, children are forced to carry out raids, beat and kill civilians and kidnap other children if they want to stay alive. The girls end up sexually violated and physically abused. They are forced to beat or trample to death other children who attempt to escape, and are repeatedly told that they will be killed if they try to run away.

To avoid LRA abduction, every night as many as 40,000 children flee their homes in the countryside to sleep in the relative safety of towns. They seek refuge overnight at churches, hospitals, bus stations and temporary shelters before returning home again each morning.

This video spotlights a society living under the constant threat of having its children abducted and shows the world that a crisis that the United Nations has called a "crime against humanity" can no longer be ignored.

To access the photo essay and video please click on: