Restoring the lives of war victims


26 year old Nancy Auma, is one of 574 beneficiaries – men, women and children - who have benefited from free reconstructive surgery, medical rehabilitation as well as counseling under the United Nations' Peace Building Programme (PBP) for Northern Uganda, which has enabled her to lead a normal life.

Twenty six year old Nancy Auma was walking to her aunt’s home in Paicho, some 30km from Gulu town in northern Uganda, when she was forcibly abducted by rebels of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

Back then in 1999, the LRA’s 17 year rebellion was in its tenth year. Thousands had died and as many as 1.2 million people were living in crowded camp settlements depending on humanitarian assistance from aid agencies including the United Nations.

Key Highlights

  • 574 beneficiaries in Acholi – who had been mutilated during the 17- year Lords Resistance Army conflict - accessed free reconstructive plastic surgery, giving them a new lease of life.
  • A grant of $170,000 was provided to the African Youth Network (AYINET) for the project by the UN’s Peace Building Programme (PBP) for Northern Uganda.
  • The Peace Building Programme (PBF) was jointly implemented by UNDP (as lead agency) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Thousands were abducted, tortured, sexually abused and forced to work as labourers. And many more like Auma were mutilated and left with physical and emotional scars, a gruesome reminder of their painful ordeal.

The rebels had kept Nancy alive, but when she became too weak and couldn’t keep up with the pace as they marched to their hideout bases, another abducted child was ordered to cut off her lips, nose and ears.

Nancy has been undergoing a series of reconstructive surgeries to restore her face with the help of several organisations, including the UN’s Peace Building Programme (PBP) for Northern Uganda which provided a grant of $170,000 to the African Youth Network (AYINET) to reconstruct her lips and fund surgeries of other war victims in the Acholi sub region.

A total of 574 beneficiaries – men, women and children - have undergone reconstructive surgery, medical rehabilitation as well as counselling to heal both their emotional and physical scars.

AYINET also carried out a mapping study to identify other victims in need of support across the region to establish how best to meet their needs.

“Overall, the victims mapping exercise was aimed at outlining a process to support more victims or survivors of war with urgent medical needs in Acholi with the view that other development partners could be brought on board in future to provide further support knowing who, where, and what support is needed”, says Richard Musinguzi, the Programme Manager and UNDP focal point for the Peace Building Programme.

An end of project evaluation of beneficiaries indicates that many have found greater acceptance in their communities and are more positive about the future.

A number of children who had stopped schooling due to severe disfigurement have resumed their studies, while several women who had separated from their husbands have been re-united.

“We have even those who were severely injured are now actively contributing to the community leadership, supporting fellow victims and the counseling process has also contributed to reconciliations in homes and communities,” adds Musinguzi.

The UN joint Peace Building Programme started in January 2011 and ended in December 2012. The programme was jointly implemented by UNDP, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as lead agency, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).