The Presidential Initiative on Peace, Security, and Development Reception Center for Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) returnees in Kasese is struggling to accommodate the overwhelming number of returnees.
The initiative, which started in 2022 in the Rwenzori region, aims to find a lasting solution to armed conflicts in the region by encouraging rebels to denounce their activities in exchange for amnesty. The leaders of the initiative say that hosting the former rebels has come with challenges, such as the lack of accommodation, food, and a rehabilitation mechanism.
According to Christopher Kibanzanga, the Mission/Initiative Coordinator, the center has received over 40 returnees, most of whom are minors, and they are struggling to accommodate them due to limited space.
Kibanzanga is asking the government to consider establishing a fully-fledged reception and rehabilitation center in the Rwenzori region to re-focus the returnees before they are let back into their communities.
The returnees are expected to stay at the reception center for some time to undergo psychosocial support before being reunited with their communities. He is also appealing to well-wishers to partner with them in finding shelter and other basics for the ex-rebels.
Lt. Col. Edward Natukunda, a representative of Operation Shujja, acknowledges the success of persuading rebels to denounce their activities. He recognizes the need to engage the government to expand the reception center’s capacity to handle more returnees and help the current ones.
Maj. Gen. James Birungi, the boss of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) notes that it is disturbing that the majority of the returnees are juveniles under the age of 10 years. He stresses that such an age justifies the need for a rehabilitation center that can offer them life skills, work, and recreation.