Blog Posts for 2008
Right now, a letter addressed to President Bush sits on the desk of your Members of Congress, requesting that the President immediately dispatch a diplomat to support ongoing negotiations and give peace a chance
Click here now to make sure this letter gets signed by your leaders and sent to the White House!
People from across the country will be joining you in emailing Members of Congress to ask them to sign this letter. Dispatching a diplomat to the talks would inject trust and accountability into the process and increase the likelihood that the conflict will be peacefully resolved.
By joining with others who are concerned about this crisis, you can help give peace a chance in northern Uganda. Sending a quick email to your leaders is a great first step!
We'll keep you up to date on this blog as we receive updates as to who signs the letter to President Bush. Send your email today!
Today, the new UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, briefed the UN Security Council about his recent trip to northern Uganda. He said the situation in the conflict-affected districts was improving, as security had increased with the major decline in LRA attacks. He said that child "night commuting" to avoid abduction by LRA, once affecting 20,000 children, has largely ceased. Nevertheless, he said there remains a long distance still to go with 1.6 million people still displaced. Only 1 percent, or just over 7,000 people, had so far returned permanently to their places of origin.
Holmes said the situation presents a triple challenge. First, there is need to continue providing vital humanitarian assistance to those still in camps. Those who had either moved to new settlement sites or were commuting to their places of origin continue to need basic food and household items, but also require access to water and sanitation, health services and education. Also, those who have returned home require a basic support package for the early stages and, more importantly, a large amount of development and reconstruction help to restart their normal agricultural livelihoods, with re-established infrastructure and social provision. Read more at ReliefWeb .
There are new hopes for the Juba peace process as the Ugandan government and LRA have agreed to resume negotiations on May 31. When the parties resume, they will address agenda item #3, reconciliation and accountability. The outstanding indictments for four top LRA leaders remains an obstacle. "[LRA leaders] are of the opinion that the indictments should be withdrawn before we can reach a conclusive peace agreement. However, we told them that we cannot withdraw the case unless we have signed an agreement with them," Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Rugunda has said. However, in a recent interview, LRA deputy leader Vincent Otti threatened a return to war unless the ICC warrants are withdrawn. Read more at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting .
Olara Otunnu, former UN Under-Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, has written an open letter to the LRA in tomorrow's Monitor . He writes, "I reject the notion that: If you condemn LRA atrocities, this means that you are pro-Museveni; and if you expose Museveni
The UN has promised to clear hotel bills incurred by the LRA delegates in Juba. "There was a delay in paying some bills, due to minor disagreements of a technical nature regarding some of the charges," the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced. "These are now being addressed with a view to reaching a prompt solution." The management of Juba Bridge Hotel, where the delegates are residing, had denied food to the LRA team because of non-payment of close to $100,000. Meanwhile, the Ugandan government said it expects talks to resume this weekend with agenda item three. Read more at The Monitor.
Uganda's Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki said yesterday that traditional justice mechanisms, namely Mato Oput, are the best option for resolving the 21-year war in northern Uganda. "Peace is vital for development. The judiciary promotes peace, but as the custodian of the judiciary, I still believe in traditional justices like the mato oput and the local council systems," he said. This is timely as the parties in the Juba negotiations move toward the contentious issue of accountability, especially for LRA rebel leadership. "It is through such systems of solving problems that the community understands each other," he said. Read more at The New Vision .
This week, the parties in Juba are expected to resume negotiations on the third agenda item: reconciliation and accountability. This agenda item has been considered by some the "make-or-break" point for the peace talks. The LRA leadership has conditioned any peace agreement on the suspension of International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants. Yet, the Ugandan government has said it will only engage such an option once an agreement has been signed. Civil society leaders have been exploring "third way" approaches that advance accountability without hindering peace. Read more at The Daily Monitor .
A Commissioner of the Uganda Human Rights Commission met with the LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti last Friday in a bid to secure the release of the women and children still in captivity. Veronica Bichetero, who is in charge of internally displaced people, met the rebel leader at Ri-Kwangba. She discussed with him the education needs and social concerns of the non-combatant women and children. She described the meeting as a success, held in a friendly atmosphere. "He (Otti) encouraged me to make a follow-up. So the door is open for further discussion and consultation," she added. Otti reportedly reiterated the LRA's commitment to ending the rebellion through the Juba peace talks. He described the women and children as LRA's civilians. He welcomed steps to give them humanitarian aid. Bichetero's meeting was part of a bigger mission by the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team. Read more at The New Vision.
An Unresolved Crisis
After two decades of neglect, peace may finally be on the horizon for the people of northern Uganda. Current negotiations between the Government of Uganda and Lord's Resistance Army present the best opportunity yet to achieve an end to this war, which has displaced millions of people and condemned generations of children to lives of insecurity violence and fear. But international support and engagement is urgently needed to ensure a peace agreement is reached and to address the longstanding consequences of displacement and insecurity. Having long overlooked the conflict, policymakers can now show decisive leadership to support the people of northern Uganda in their unwavering desire for peace.