Cultural leaders in Acholi have begun burying all the remains of people killed during the 20-year guerilla war fought by the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. The exercise that begun late last month is expected to last until March this year.
Sophie Agwoko, the Project Officer at Ker Kal Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi traditional institution, says 60 million shillings has been budgeted for the mass burial of the remains. She says the burials will be held in 12 sub-counties in Gulu and Amuru district and they will be officiated by cultural leaders who will conduct cleansing ceremonies at the same time.
Traditional Acholi beliefs hold that the spirits of the dead can return to haunt the living. It is believed that this is particularly true for those involved in violent deaths.
Agwoko says many formerly displaced persons are afraid of returning to their villages, which they believe to be haunted. She says the dead will be gathered and their memories honored with formal burials.
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Agwoko says the burials will be part of the healing of the people of Acholi. She explains that during the burial ceremonies people involved in the atrocities will be encouraged to atone for their crimes and will undergo traditional reconciliation rites.
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It is now known exactly how many people were killed by the LRA, but the figure is placed in the tens of thousands. Millions were displaced by the fighting and thousands were wounded, maimed, abducted and forced into rebellion by the LRA.