The process of returning internally displaced persons and building peace in Amuru District, Uganda
Ujeo, Mary Consolate
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This study focused on the process of returning internally displaced persons and building peace in Amuru district, Uganda. Over 90% of the population in Amuru district in northern Uganda were displaced by the over two decades old conflict between the LRA and the Gov-ernment of Uganda. However, the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the Government of Uganda and the LRA in August 2006 led to improved security and greater freedom of movement for IDPs in northern Uganda, who have begun to return home. The population emerging out of the IDP camps shows different levels of vulnerability, needs and interests. The purpose for carrying out this research was to investigate how the return process could be effectively managed so that IDPs can return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity and attain a durable solution to displacement. Consequently, this research investigated the factors influencing the decisions of IDPs to return home, reasons as to why some IDPs are choosing to remain in the main camps, the return intentions of IDPs, the important things they need so as to return home, and proposed strategies for an effective and efficient return of IDPs as a way of building peace in Amuru district. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect data from selected main camps and return locations in six sub counties of Amuru district namely; Pabbo, Amuru, Alero, Koch Goma, Atiak and Purongo. The researcher used questionnaires, focus group discussions, physical observations and review of available literature during this study. Field visits for data collection were mainly conducted in the months of May and June, 2008. The research found out that IDPs in Amuru district are not returning home voluntarily but are being forced by the factors pushing them which include; the need to access land for digging; because of being evicted from main camps; pressure from the leaders; and because of influ-ence from other family members, relatives and neighbours who have decided to return. 87.1% of the IDPs who were interviewed in main camps had intentions to go home. Only 12.3% of the IDPs who were interviewed from the main camps did not want to return home. To return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity, majority of the IDPs indicated the need for security and peace; the presence and availability of public services; facilitation with return kits; access to land; and physical help such as building shelters for extremely vulnerable indi-viduals and widows among the most important things they need in order to return home.