Humanitarian workers in northern Uganda have for several years reported of the high psychological trauma among people directly affected by the guerilla war fought by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Now a new study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has confirmed this belief.
The study that probed factors associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression amongst internally displaced persons in Gulu and Amuru districts found that three quarters of those questioned witnessed or experienced the murder of a family or friend. Over half of respondents reported having been beaten or tortured and almost one in seven respondents had experienced rape and sexual abuse.
The research, which was concentrated among IDPs in Gulu and Amuru, found that there were there were significant variations between women and men in exposure to a number of the traumatic events. 47% of women and 70% of men had experienced being beaten or tortured. 18of women and 8% of men had been raped or sexually abused.
Several local and international organizations are currently offering psychosocial support to war-affected communities in northern Uganda. The bulk of the treatment is given to former child soldiers and abductees of the LRA.
However the new study provides evidence to indicate that a population larger than those currently targeted needs to be given psychosocial support. According to the report depression in northern Uganda is compounded by lack of food or water, ill health without and poor housing or shelter.
Authors of the report
post traumatic stress disorder