OPM SCAM: Suicide Rates Up As PRDP runs out of money for Counseling LRA Victims

KazindaThe continued absence of concerted counselling services among the population in northern and eastern Uganda who lived with twenty years of war is forcing many into suicide, according to the Amnesty Commission. Moses Drako, the Amnesty Commission spokesperson told Uganda Radio Network on Monday that there were increasing cases of people committing suicide due to high levels of trauma and depression, situations that could have been helped by counselling. Drako said the Commission is not able to hold irregular dialogues and counselling due to limited funding. He disclosed that during one of the sessions at Atiak Sub County in Amuru district, it emerged that 10 residents had committed suicide between December 2012 and February 2013. Drako disclosed that 28 more people confessed during the dialogue to harbouring intentions of committing suicide. He said many in the community said they felt hopeless, the reason some turn to suicideThe need for counselling services is the reason why government introduced the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan – PRDP – six years ago. Under the theme of Peace building and Reconciliation, the plan was to provide counselling services to the war-scarred communities through sector agencies such as the Amnesty Commission. However, since 2007 when it was first launched, counselling service has remained elusive in the communities despite the fact that PRDP was extended for three more years with a budget of 1.2 trillion shillings, hundreds of millions of shillings more than the 1.1 trillion shillings spent during its first five years. It’s not clear why little has been done to provide counselling services in the areas despite the need and indications to availability of funding. Drako told URN that the Peace Building and Reconciliation component, which is supposed to cater for counselling services, has an approved budget of 492 million shillings. He however said the money is not regularly disbursed. The PRDP program came under spotlight after it emerged that billions of shillings required to implement it had been stolen from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) prompting donor countries to cut further allocation of funding. However, Gonzaga Mayanja, the Commissioner in charge PRDP in the OPM, told URN in a recent interview that the activities had not been affected by the donors’ decision to withdraw their funds. Many researchers have done studies revealing a high level of trauma in northern Uganda with recommendations ranging from counselling, medication to psychotherapy to help the war victims cope with the effects of the war.

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