News story

Former child soldiers share story with UK minister

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Former child soldiers from Uganda have met with Minister for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, during their visit to the UK. The children, who are supported by the relief charity, Watoto, thanked the MP for the UK’s continued involvement and interest in redeveloping Uganda.

Former child soldiers from Uganda have met with Minister for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, during their visit to the UK. The children, who are supported by the relief charity, Watoto, thanked the MP for the UK’s continued involvement and interest in redeveloping Uganda.

Stephen O'Brien with the former child soldiers from Uganda

“Today I had the privilege to meet with several young Ugandans who have survived abduction and forced enslavement as child soldiers. These children and teenagers have endured unimaginable suffering and have shown great courage,” Minister for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, said. 

“That they have come to the UK to share their story of restoration shows a great strength and character - I believe these children, and many others like them, will grow to become upstanding citizens, heralding a new generation of hope for Uganda. They are an inspiration to us all as much as to their fellow citizens in Uganda.”

Abducted from northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the eighties and nineties, thousands of Ugandan children were forced to become soldiers and terrorise their own communities. This brutality, coupled with an HIV epidemic, crippled the region.

For over fifteen years the international charity, Watoto has worked in Uganda creating safe and stable homes for women and children. The charity are taking part in the international Restore Tour, featuring former child soldiers sharing their own accounts of life during and after the conflict. The performances focus on a message of hope and restoration.

One of the Watoto children’s team remarked, “Meeting the minister was great. It means a lot to me that he met with us to hear about our lives and make us feel welcome. I hope to be a leader in my community and to continue the work Watoto has started redeveloping Uganda.”

The UK is supporting rehabilitation and recovery in Northern Uganda, including vocational training for 150,000 young people who have missed the opportunity of education and helping 4,500 people return to their homes.