Registration of former rebels completed

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has registered 588 adults wishing to take advantage of an amnesty offered to former rebels by the Ugandan government. This brings to a close the registration process which began on 20 January.

Of the total 930 applicants, 299 were females, 289 males and 342 under 18s, IOM's regional project development officer, Charles Kwenin, told IRIN on Tuesday. The applicants included 12 former child combatants, he noted.

The IOM was currently analysing the data taken on each applicant to establish how many were genuine former members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, or any of its factions, he said. "A lot of those who have come forward are likely to be economic migrants," he said.

Those found eligible will receive medical screening and repatriation assistance in early March. Once in Uganda, they will be handed over to the Amnesty Commission and will receive rehabilitation and reintegration support from IOM and other NGOs.

Kwenin said former rebels based in Kenya who had not come forward were apprehensive about returning to Uganda. "They know that LRA incursions are still going on, and that some destinations are not safe. Some fear that because they know a lot about the LRA, they will be forcibly recruited onto the front line if they go home."

The Ugandan Amnesty Act provides for an amnesty for Ugandan nationals involved in "acts of a warlike nature", and covers any Ugandan residing within or outside the country who has been engaged in armed rebellion or war against the government since 1986. There are about 1,000 former rebels based in Kenya, who arrived from bases in southern Sudan when the terms of the amnesty were announced.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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