The Challenge

For decades, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has taken people from their families and forced them to become child soldiers, forced “wives,” and laborers, and it continues today. Some of the LRA’s captives have been in the bush for days and others for years. For all of them, escape is just the beginning of a long journey home, often with hundreds of miles and an international border standing in their way.

Our response

Following years of successful “come home” messaging campaigns, our efforts today are focused on supporting those who escape LRA captivity on their journey home. We are one of the only international organizations in the region providing this kind of support to former LRA fighters and captives.

When escapees from the LRA arrive in a community, Local Peace Committees are trained to immediately report their appearance to Invisible Children and our partners. We coordinate with members of the Peace Committee to provide immediate care to the escapee while we begin planning for their transportation home or to a host family near one of our field offices. Most people escape from the LRA in very remote areas that are difficult for our team to reach, so local communities are essential to starting the process of caring for LRA escapees and helping them get home.

Once we ensure that an escapee is safe, the first thing we do is find and make contact with their family. Oftentimes, we’re able to arrange for former captives to speak with their families, for the first time since their abduction.

The next step is to help escapees make the physical journey home. When LRA captives escape, they are usually hundreds of miles from home with an international border between them and their families. We help arrange for and facilitate their travel home, whether by car, plane, or motorbike. For those who need to be repatriated to their home country, we help them through the process of safely and legally crossing the border.

But even after they arrive back home, an LRA escapee’s journey is not over. In most cases, the trauma of abduction and captivity has a deep and lasting effect on an individual’s personality and their relationships with family and friends. Before reunification even happens, we begin helping families and escapees prepare for the transition by explaining trauma and providing information and resources for basic psycho-social support.

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