The Victims’ Fund of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has been in Uganda to ascertain the situation of the LRA war victims in Northern Uganda has made a plea for more financial support to expand its programs.
The team said that while there’s still work to be done to help the victims in Northern Uganda to recover from traumatic and physical harm, shop the funding challenge remains ‘enormous’.
The team which includes Pieter de Baan, site the Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), Scott Bertell, the TFV Regional Program Manager and Mama Koite Doumbia, one of the TFV Board of Directors were accompanying the ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi on her visit to DRC and Uganda.
They revealed that only 3 African countries out of the 34 that are parties to the Rome Statute which established the ICC have made donations to the Fund.
“But even the donations by these 3 countries (South Africa, Namibia and Senegal) are very modest,” Pieter de Baan, the Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims told journalists during a news conference at Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday.
He said that the Fund depends on well-wishers (mostly state parties) to run its activities which unlike the ICC state contribution isn’t mandatory.
“We invite state parties to donate so as to show solidarity to the victims. We intend to fund raise since we plan to expand our activities to reach more victims,” Baan added.
Since it started its programs in Uganda in 2008, TFV has supported up to 45,000 war victims with psycho social support, counseling, reconstructive surgery for amputees in addition to about 200,000 more people who have benefitted indirectly through community oriented activities.
While the team acknowledged that some successes have been registered in regard to rehabilitation and economic epowerement among victims, they said recovery from trauma and stigmatization is a long term process.
Scott Bertell, the TFV Regional Program Manager and Legal Advisor said that several victims still require help adding that 25% of the war affected population in Northern Uganda are struggling with trauma to date.
“Trauma affects these people in many ways including depression, stigma and limiting their participation in community activities. To reduce this, more community sensitization is required,” Bertell said.
The team also stressed the need to offer priority support to the most vulnerable such as the mutilated as well as women and girls who are victims of sexual violence.
TFV plans to improve efficiency of its programs including a pilot of (Switz made) cheaper and durable artificial limbs for victims that were amputated.