19th September 2004 No 69
The government of Uganda's promise to give amnesty to the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who surrender, yet threatening to prosecute their leaders at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been blamed for the tense situation in the north of the country.
The Vice-Rector of Lacor Minor Seminary in Uganda's north, Fr Cyprian Ocen, on Wednesday, September 8, 2004, told CISA that the situation could only improve if the government offered full amnesty to the rebels.
"The contradictory methods being used by the government to deal with the war is responsible for the devastating effects," said Fr Ocen, "the government promises amnesty one day, the next day, the army is tracking the rebels and the President is threatening to go tot the International Court of Justice.
The priest said that the Ugandan army had been reluctant to track down the rebels until recently, when they rescued some abducted people who they enrolled in the armed forces to lead the tracking efforts.
Lacor Minor Seminary was attacked by the LRA rebels in 2003 and 40 children abducted. Of these, 29 were rescued but 11 are still missing. (Source: CISA)
KAMPALA - The leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, Joseph Kony, has fled the southern Sudanese mountains of Imatong, the army said on Monday.
The UPDF spokesman, Maj. Shaban Bantariza, said Kony was fleeing down the highly inaccessible mountains with about 200 fighters. “Our fire has forced him to leave the Imatong Mountains. Now he is coming down with about 200 fighters scattered in small groups,” Shaban said in a telephone interview.
“He has tried to go back to Bin Rwot and Lubanga Tek where he left his caches of arms,” Bantariza added. The army said Kony survived their offensive on the LRA hideouts over the weekend in which one of his bodyguards was captured.
Lubang Tek and Bin Rwot are two of the five bases the LRA settled in for years before they were dislodged by the UPDF at the beginning of 2002.
Uganda recently finalised agreements with the International Criminal Court to investigate and arrest Kony over war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Some 1.6 million people have fled their homes in northern Uganda to escape the LRA’s 18-year insurgency against the NRM governmet.
President Yoweri Museveni’s government. UNICEF estimates 12,000 children have been abducted and tuned into child soldier and sex slaves.
KITGUM - Five civilians were shot dead in an ambush by rebel of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the district within the last two weeks.
The LC5 chairman, Mr Nahaman Ojwee, said they were killed between the sub counties of Paluga and Madi-Opei in Lamwo county, about 50 kilometers north east of Kitgum town.
Ojwee said the victims were traveling between the two sub-counties when they fell into the ambush. They were taken into the nearby bushes and hacked to death.
“A number of civilians have been shot or hacked to death by the rebels along this road in the near past and there is a lot of fear among the people,” Ojwee said.
He said the identities of the people killed could not be readily established due to inaccessibility of the road network in the area.
Ojwee said most of the sub-counties in his district bordering southern Sudan had been infiltrated by rebels to the extent that movement had become very difficult.
He said the UPDF could have relaxed their operations in the area.
CHILDREN fleeing homes to Gulu, Kitgum and Pader towns every night for fear of rebel abductions has dropped since the UPDF intensified its offensive on the LRA rebels, Unicef has said.
The offensive, a continuation of the UPDF’s Operation Iron Fist against Kony has seen a number of rebel commanders killed, captured or surrender.
The Unicef monthly humanitarian situation report for August 2004 said the child commuters dropped from 59,000 in early August to 44,000.
The report said there was no clear-cut indication to a swift resolution to the 18-year long insurgency, which has seen displacement of about 1.6 million people in eight districts, 80% of whom are women and children.
At least 3,000 have been abducted since last October.
The report said, however, that the Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu issued a statement saying the surrender of a large number of LRA rebels in the past few weeks may lead to a quick end to the conflict.
But the report said the rebels attempted to abduct five Kitgum district staff members recently as they returned from a Unicef mobilisation exercise on HIV/AIDS, but the UPDF repulsed them near Abilgiri River on Kitgum-Matidi road.
The report also said Cabinet approved a policy on internal displacement, creating a framework for the Government and donors to support the voluntary return of the displaced to their homes.
The report, however, said the rebels turned their wrath on Katire, a southern Sudan village, capturing it after engaging the Equatoria Defence Force militia group.
KAMPALA, Thursday — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Uganda is short of US$23.8m needed to assist 2.4 million food-insecure people in Uganda over the next seven months, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the north, refugees and other vulnerable groups, WFP officials said.
The required amount could, however, increase if an assessment done recently in the northeastern Karamoja region confirms preliminary reports indicating sharp food inadequacies in that area.
Ken Davies, the WFP Uganda Country Director, told IRIN that a preliminary report from the region indicated that some sub-counties had suffered food shortages and required assistance.
“If there are no rains in these areas, then we expect trouble for the people in about five sub-counties,” he said
USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), in a report released this week, said continuing insecurity had severely limited livelihood options for IDPs, widening the food gap.
“Given the food security situation both for those confined to camps and those returning, it is important that this deficit be closed.
An extended dry spell in the drought-prone Karamoja region disrupted pasture growth and cultivation of major staples and could result in deterioration in the food security of the people in this area,” FEWS Net noted.
WFP said 97,000 people will receive 1,700 metric tonnes of food as they go back to their villages.(a) New Vision: WFP pledge
(15th September, 2004)
GULU — The World Food Programme (WFP) will continue to give assistance to the people of northern Uganda when the war ends.
WFP head of delegation in Gulu Petro Amolat told journalists on Thursday that the displaced feared that they might not have food relief if the war ended.
WFP currently gives relief food to over 1.2 million displaced people in northern and northeastern Uganda.
New Vision, Monitor, BBC, IRIN, Rupiny, MEGA FM, Simba FM, The Uganda Weekly
Gulu District will join the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2004. The Day calls for individual and collective progress towards building a culture of peaceful coexistence.
"For over two years International Days of Peace have been celebrated in other parts of Uganda, but this year, following the trend of events around the Great Lakes Region, many peace initiatives have been formed with the aim of resolving this conflict through peace and reconciliation," the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiatives (ARLPI) said in a statement sent to CISA.
There had been a series of meetings and workshops where the conflict in northern Uganda was the main issue. Indeed many people are not aware of the situation in the Internally Displaced People's camps. Other countries are not aware of the level of disaster in the north.
Northern Uganda, which incorporates Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts, which together form the Acholiland (Land of the ethnic Acholi people)has experienced armed conflict for close to 18 years now. The most recent and ongoing conflict is the one perpetuated by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under Joseph Kony.
People in the North of Uganda have been living with the killing, abduction of children, rape of young girls, displacement into camps and severe emotional distress during the war.
In March 2002, the government of Uganda launched "Operation Iron fist", a military campaign to defeat the LRA militia, and rescue the children abducted. Unfortunately the LRA were not completely wiped out, and those who had fled to Sudan came back and continued with their massacres and other atrocities mainly against the civilians, which has resulted in the displacement of over 1,200,000 people.
On the basis of this, local leaders and religious leaders have formed themselves to into fora to engage in peaceful resolution to war. (ARLPI), which was formally inaugurated in February 1998 as an interfaith forum bringing together the Christian and Muslims to contribute proactively in bringing peace to Acholi land is trying to engage the government and the LRA to resolve their difference through dialogue.
ARLPI together with Ruwenzori Forum For Peace and Justice (RFPJ) will coordinate this year's celebrations in Gulu. RFPJ is a network of Civil Society Organisation committed to peace building and advocacy for peace in the Rwenzori. "So far this peace day shall also enhance national reconciliation and harmonize views on the approach the peace process by experiencing and celebrating Peace," The ARLPI statement said.
Children and Peace. Children peace rally in Gulu, during the rally, children will march, with photos and placards displaying different drawings done. During this activity children will be mobilized to exhibit Peace Items and Pictures. A joint debate facilitated by Children Peace club to be conducted.There will be a video coverage and press conference. Children will be facilitated to discuss issues around them and try to experience peace throughout their day.
Women and Peace. Different women groups will have a joint meeting to understand PEACE and look at their contribution in sustaining peaceful families and environment. Case studies and documentaries will be displayed during the meeting. Women groups will have a talk show on women and peace.
Civil Society Organisations and Peace. It is during this meeting that a workshop calling various stakeholders to discuss the role of civil society in building a peaceful society will be held.
A Night Camp Fire. A camp fire will be lit on the eve of International Peace Day. All stakeholders and invited guests will beat at the camp fire. Venue for the camp fire to be identified and communicated to all. During the camp fire, speeches from dignatories, Government officials and civil society will be made and a joint communiqué presented as a press release for the day. During the camp fire, there will be bull roasting, cultural entertainments and experience sharing from different people.
Media and Peace. There will be displays by the different media houses and a leaflet circulating the role of media in Peace wor. Review of peace calls made over the local radio stations, captions of the year be displayed at the camp fire. A press conference between the different media houses will be done and documented.
Peace Caravan Tour. Three camps will be visited and the peace caravan and meeting with other cultural members from the camps. Entertainment of people in the IDP.
International Peace Day. There will be series of programmes drawn and circulated for all.
Contacts: Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) firstname.lastname@example.org (Source: CISA)
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