Dr Eric Awich Ochen

Dr Eric Awich Ochen (Makerere University)

Research title: No Smooth Journey Home: Revisiting the Reintegration Challenges of formerly displaced young people in post-conflict Northern Uganda

Research project: The end of conflict in northern Uganda produced both opportunities and challenges for the people formerly living in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to return to their original homes. The biggest proportion of the individuals leaving camps and returning home were children and young people who in many cases were born and bred in the IDP camps. A fundamental issue which the return from the IDP camps unravelled is the inability of these young people, called the “camp generation” from fitting into the established societal order in the area of resettlements. Anecdotal evidence and targeted research trips suggests that these young people were negatively socialised by their camp environmental situation and did not effectively go through the formal traditional Acholi (tribal community) socialisation systems, which emphasizes hard work and productive engagement, respect for elders, responsibility and positive ambitions. Many of these young people have thus taken up excessive drinking, smoking and generally dysfunctional lifestyles. The indiscipline of this camp generation has thus been a major issue of concern to cultural institutions and local leadership across Acholi land. It thus raises a fundamental question about the reintegration and re-socialisation of these young people and how they can be made to embrace productive social life.Dr Eric Awich Ochen

Collaborator: Dr. Harri Englund, Social Anthropology and Centre of African Studies