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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 August 11; 335(7614): 278.
PMCID: PMC1941886
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War in Uganda leaves deep psychological scars

The war in northern Uganda between the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and the government has devastated millions of lives since it began two decades ago. When researchers surveyed a sample of the region's adult population, 40% (1018/2585) said they had been abducted by the rebels, almost one half (1259/2585) had been threatened with death, more than one half had seen a child abducted, and 31% (799/2585) had lost one or more of their own children. Physical and sexual violence, either witnessed or experienced first hand, was common. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 74% (1774/2389) of respondents had post-traumatic stress disorder and 44.5% (1151/2585) were clinically depressed. Both were associated with an inclination to favour violence as a way of achieving peace. Sixty one per cent of the 2585 respondents had been driven from their villages and were living in camps.

This survey found a higher prevalence of severe mental illness than other surveys in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Gaza, Afghanistan, and Rwanda, although the various methods weren't strictly comparable. The length of the Ugandan conflict, its brutality towards civilians, and mass displacement are all to blame, say the authors. The Lord's Resistance Army used civilian abduction to recruit soldiers and other personnel, including sex workers.workers.

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