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18th June 2004 No 56
11th June 2004
Disclaimer: [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
KAMPALA - The Ugandan government on Thursday unveiled a new programme it said would give priority to food security and increased incomes for families displaced by the 18-year old conflict between the army and rebels in the north of the country.
Presenting a budget speech to parliament, Finance Minister Gerald Ssendaula said the programme included deployment of 40 tractors to help cotton farmers under a scheme obliging cotton ginners to open up land for internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the camps, enabling them to produce food crops and grow cotton on contract for income purposes.
"The government is concerned about the plight of the people of the north and northeast living in the internally displaced persons' camps," Ssendaula said. "While the restoration of peace is being addressed, there is urgent need to improve the welfare of these people."
"Under this programme, 40 tractors have been procured. For the efficient management of the scheme, these tractors will be operated through participating cotton ginners under a subsidised leasing scheme, managed by the Cotton Development Organisation," Ssendaula said.
Northern Uganda used to be a major cotton-growing area, before conflict disrupted farming patterns. Ssendaula added that the scheme was also intended to help IDPs to produce food crops such as millet, maize and beans.
"The details for the operationalisation of the scheme will be discussed with the leaderships of the districts concerned," the minister said.
Nearly all the districts in northern and eastern Uganda have been affected by the conflict between government forces and rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). These include Adjumani, Apac, Gulu, Katakwi, Kitgum, Lira, Pader and Soroti. At least 1.6 million people have been displaced across the region, while thousands of children have been abducted by the rebels to forcibly join their ranks, work as porters or as sex slaves.
Ssendaula said another US $100 million was being spent to address the critical needs of people and to stimulate production in the north. "Government will continue to deliver other critical services through the district programmes," he told the parliament.
The minister said the Ugandan economy was projected to attain a growth rate of 6 percent by June, when the current financial year winds up, compared to the 5.2 percent recorded last year, although this was far below the targeted rate of growth of 7 percent. However, total government expenditure in 2005 would rise by 7.8 percent to Ushs 3.4 billion (about $1.88 billion).
The Vice President, Gilbert Bukenya, told the parliament after the budget speech that the government would also pay school fees for students in public secondary schools whose parents live in IDP camps.
By Irene Nabwire & Oketch Bitek (June 11th 2004)
GULU - At least six people were on Wednesday killed in separate incidents when they entered the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel ambushes in Gulu district.
Local sources said two traders were killed and three others injured when a lorry carrying building materials entered a rebel ambush in Papa-Lira village in Patiko sub-county, about 17 kms north of Gulu town.
They dead were identified
as Ms Akot Odong and Mr Johnson Papa.
The Northern Region army spokesman in Gulu, Lt. Paddy Ankunda, said the two killed civilians were returning from the village where they had taken building materials. He said three others in the same vehicle were severely injured, but the rebels did not burn the vehicle.
Four other civilians were on Tuesday evening shot dead when they entered a rebel ambush in Opit forest, Lakwana sub-county in Omoro county, about 26 kms south east of Gulu town. But Ankunda said he was not aware of the incident. Sources said the deceased were returning from their village to Opit camp for internally displaced people.
The rebels headed for Ato hills in Gulu. Military sources said the rebels who attacked the campo were part of the group that raided Apac district on Monday night and killed over 25 people.
By Justin Moro (14th June 2004)
THE construction of two new security roads by the Government in Aruu county in Pader district is to boost further the UPDF in fighting the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony, the UPDF 509 Brigade commander has said.
Lt. Col. Paul L’Okech recently said the construction of Pajulke-Koyo, Lalogi and Bolo-Atanga security roads would ease deployment and movement of UPDF troops in these areas.
“The security roads will make troop movement and deployments much quicker in fighting the rebels in these areas, which used to be LRA sanctuaries. With the bridges built on the Agago River, combat vehicles will be able to move troops faster,” L’Okech said.
Mulowooza and Brothers Limited are constructing the roads. L’Okech said the Pajule-Koyo-Lalogi road was about 45km and Bolo from Awere to Atanga sub-county headquarters was about 64km.
He said former LRA army commander Yadin Nyeko Tolbert was killed in Wipolo area early this year in a helicopter gunship attack.
14th June, 2004
LIRA – The district chairman, Franco Ojur, has warned those among the Amuka militia, who kill innocent civilians that their actions will not be tolerated. Ojur was recently speaking at his office in Lira.
By Joe Wacha (14th June 2004)
APAC - The officer in charge of Otwal army detach, Albert Mugabe, has been arrested. He was the one in charge at the time rebels attacked Abok IDP camp on Tuesday, and has been arrested for failing to confront the attacking rebels.
Mugabe was arrested upon the orders of the 4th Division acting commander, Lt. Col. Anywar. "He has been arrested and will face a court martial soon", the army spokesman for northern Uganda, Lt Paddy Ankunda told The Monitor on telephone.
Chairman LC5 of Apac district, Mr Ben Olwa told The Monitor that the people in the camp had reported to him that the army commander fled from the attacking rebels.
"This is very bad. How do you run and leave behind the people you are trained and employed to protect?" Meanwhile, Lt. Paddy Ankunda has said one of the rebels from the group that waged the attack has been captured and six people rescued from captivity.
This happened during a crossfire at Lalogi in Gulu district where the rebels were pursued. He however said the situation was not yet calm.
By Samuel Matekha (11th June 2004)
The Refugee Law Project has blamed the continued LRA insurgency on government’s failure to build trust in the rebels and community leaders in Northern Uganda.
The NGO’s boss Zachary Lomo says many uncoordinated statements and unimplemented promises by government have made Kony and his rebels lose trust in government.
He says unlike the West Nile Civil Conflict, government has failed to honor peace moves made by either side.
Lomo was launching the Refugee Law working paper on negotiating conflicts, which followed a research in West Nile.
The research says government should emulate approaches used by Major General Katumba Wamala when he led the UPDF against the UNLF II rebels in West Nile.
The Refugee Law Project recommends the disbanding of Internally Displaced Persons Camps.
The Weekly Observer – Editorial: Govt must protect IDPs
10th June 2004
Thirty more civilians were killed in an internally displaced people’s camp in northern Uganda last week. So what? That is not news anymore. It would only be news if a week went by without anyone being killed in an IDP camp or along some road or village path in the North.
So, it was business as usual on Thursday night when alleged LRA rebels killed 30 civilians in an attack on Kalo-Obong IDP camp in Kitgum district. Regional army spokesman, Lt. Paddy Ankunda, told our Gulu correspondent that the government could not provide a soldier or security for each and every individual.
However, Ankunda is being simplistic – even insensitive. Most of the civilians killed in recent months, including the more than 200 in Barlonyo in Lira district, were massacred inside their IDP camps, which the government officially refers to as “protected villages”. And the reason the government forced people out of their homes into these camps was that they would be safer there under the protection of soldiers and local militia.
No sensible mind would demand that the civilian/soldier ratio in northern Uganda be at 1:1 to guarantee everyone’s safety and security. At the very minimum, however, Ugandans rightly expect and demand that enough soldiers and local militia should be deployed to guarantee the safety of each of the more than 60 IDP camps that dot northern Uganda.
While we empathise with the UPDF’s circumstances in northern Uganda, we cannot remain indifferent to the tragedy and disaster that the region has become over the last 18 years. Whatever it takes, it is the primary responsibility of the Government and the Army to protect the people of northern Uganda. Any government that fails to guarantee the security of its people quickly loses legitimacy.
The Weekly Observer – Lets us keep North alive
Fr. Carlos Rodrėguez (10th June 2004)
It is not very common to find cardinals from the Vatican among world celebrities. There is one of them, Renato Martino, 72, who hit international headlines a few months ago when soon after Saddam Hussein’s capture by the Americans he made this interesting statement: “They have treated him worse than a cow!”
Cardinal Martino, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, had been very vocal against the US-led military intervention in Iraq and his remarks about the bearded former dictator “treated worse than a cow” were not strange for those already familiar with the Church’s position for peace. After all, even the worst criminal deserves to be treated with a minimum standard of dignity.
As I accompanied Cardinal Martino last week to visit the 18,000 displaced persons in Pagak (Gulu) and later on the more than 10,000 child night-commuters in Lacor hospital, I was curious to know which comparison he would find to describe how the people of northern Uganda have been (mis)treated for the last 18 years.
As soon as we reached Pagak, people took us straightaway to pray over the tomb of Dorotea, a woman killed by the rebels in the deadly attack of May 16, which left 30 dead. As we noticed that she was buried next to another fresh grave, Archbishop John Baptist Odama remarked: “Didn’t I pray in this very spot two months ago?”
Yes, he did – during the funeral of Dorotea’s husband. A UPDF soldier had shot the man, called Alfred, dead the day before. Both parents are now dead and they have left three orphans, aged 12, 9 and 5. Soon after, we proceeded to pray at the tomb of another young woman who was seriously wounded in that May 16 massacre and had died in hospital during the night. The burial had just ended and everybody was wailing. The Cardinal, deeply moved, told the mourners: “I have come to weep and pray with you”. Before leaving them, he distributed rosaries and religious pictures.
I appreciated that he didn’t talk much. Instead, in all the places he visited, he preferred to greet people individually, ask questions, listen a lot and show concern. How I hate seeing big shots who come to meet people who are suffering beyond description and start preaching at them, telling them energetically what they should and should not do before going back to their air-conditioned Prados or Pajeros and heading back to the best hotel in town. Cardinal Martino was not that kind of man.
I was touched when after a hectic day, somebody from his entourage tried to pull him away from Lacor hospital at 9.30 p.m., telling him that it was getting late and unsafe, and the man just smiled and went back to tell the curious children: “One day I will visit you at this time at your homes. Pray to God that peace may come soon”.
There are two short phrases that I heard several times from his mouth: “I have come to encourage you,” and, “You cannot extinguish a fire with more fire, you cannot defeat violence with violence, dialogue is needed to end this conflict”.
On the following day, June 2, he visited Kalongo and Kitgum. There, surrounding the church’s altar, children held placards with clear messages: “LRA, stop killing us”, “We children have no shelter”, “Please, do not abandon us”. Also here, his message was clear: “In front of this incredible suffering, the Church cannot remain indifferent,” he said.
I take up his challenge. This is why week after week I try to bring in these pages the voice of the suffering people of northern Uganda so that nobody remains indifferent to it. I used to fear that I might make people tired – talking always about the same things, but why should I? After all, there are also journalists who write regularly and abundantly about Kampala’s nightclubs and nobody tells them to change the argument.
Health – New Vision: North cleared of Ebola
By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe (11th June 2004)
THE World Health Organization (WHO) and the ministry of Health yesterday cleared Uganda of threats of a possible Ebola outbreak in districts neighbouring southern Sudan.
The head of the National Ebola Task Force, Dr. Sam Okware, yesterday said although health officials were still monitoring the situation, a possible outbreak in northern Uganda was ruled out. We are in touch with WHO officials and the chances of an outbreak have been ruled out. As of now, the situation has improved even in Yambyo county, which had the highest number of cases, he said.
Rupiny: Government to close some camps in Nwoya, Gulu
by Okoya Alex Odongo (9th June 2004)
Government is thinking of closing some small camps located in Purongo Sub County in Nwoya county n Gulu.
According to information available to Rupiny from Purungo sub county leaders’, the UPDF 11th Battalion commander based in Purongo wrote to all the small camp leaders in Purongo directing them to close their camps.
A copy of this letter was shown to Rupiny by the LC 3 chairperson in the presence of the district council representative, Mr. Odur Mills. The camps affected by the said directives include Latoro, Agung and Aparanga. The inhabitants of these camps were directed to relocate to the main camp located in Purongo trading centre, which is well protected.
The letter was signed by Lt. Col. E. Kanyesigye, the commander of the 11th battalion based in Purongo. The reason given for closing the small camps is that LRA rebels were planning to attack these camps.
KM E-Newsletter 56: 18 June 2004
Sources: The New Vision, The Monitor, BBC, IRIN, Rupiny
G= Gulu, K= Kitgum, P= Pader; L=LRA, U= UPDA & LDU, O= Others
*The data is extracted from different sources
+ Refers to killing of civilians unless otherwise stated (2 of the 25 killed in Kitgum were local militia)
++ Refers to killing of LRA (the overwhelming majority of whom are Acholi) unless otherwise stated
+++ Refers to the period from 1st June 2004
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