According to the Ugandan Government, human sacrifice is on the increase, and some suggest the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people become richer.
It is thought about 120 children and adults that are currently missing may have been victims of human sacrifice, although the real number could be much higher, as some disappearances are not reported to police. In 2009, 18 cases of child sacrifice were recorded, 15 of which have been investigated.
One cause suggested could be that parents leave their children with friends, relatives or even strangers, who in turn conspire with witches to kill children for money.
Uganda’s 1957 Witchcraft Act prohibits acts of witchcraft that involve threatening others with death. Convictions lead to prison sentences of up to five years. Yet the law has rarely been enforced, reducing fear of punishment among witchdoctors engaging in child-trafficking and ritual murders.
Many innocent people, especially children, are in constant danger of losing their lives in these ritualistic murders. This is one reason why SOS Children runs many projects in Uganda where we tackle the root causes of abandonment and help children who are vulnerable and at-risk.
The establishment of the first SOS Children's Village in Uganda was in Kakiri, a small village not far from the capital Kampala. The location was purposely selected in the Luwero Triangle since this region had been particularly affected by the war in 1985. The demand for more care for vulnerable children in Uganda increased due to the growing AIDS pandemic, and so a second SOS Children's Village was soon established in Entebbe. In June 2002 SOS Uganda started an SOS Emergency Relief Programme in Gulu in northern Uganda in order to provide active assistance to displaced children in the north of the country which was made into a permanent Children’s Village in 2009.
We specifically tackle abandonment and help at-risk children with what we call Family Strengthening Programmes. There are Family Strengthening Programmes in every Ugandan SOS location including a new one in Fort Portal. Family Strengthening Programmes have been able to prevent numerous families from disintegrating. To achieve this, SOS Children’s Villages works directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.