Blog Posts for 2008
Some human rights organisations have criticised the recent deal between the Ugandan and Congolese presidents to flush out the LRA in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Christopher Hall, senior legal advisor at Amnesty International
Claire Putzeys writes in today’s Christian Science Monitor that communal healing in northern Uganda is more important than Western-style prosecutions. She writes, “In dealing with war crimes, the West has emphasized criminal proceedings and punishment, including use of the International Criminal Court (ICC); anything less, advocates say, leads to impunity and possibly future violence. Without justice, the adage goes, there is no peace.” Yet, she writes, “For northern Ugandans, without forgiveness, there is no peace; justice is achieved through the restoration of relationships. And they have a cultural tradition in place for achieving this: mato oput, a longstanding practice that involves truth-telling and accountability, forgiveness, and reparations.” Putzeys urges the international community to support northern Ugandans in this practice. Even more, she says that the West must contront “the well-meaning but harmful attitude that Africa needs to be ‘saved,’ a theme in much of today’s social activism.” Read the full Op/Ed here.
Oxfam released a new study today, showing that most of the internally-displaced people in northern Uganda are skeptical that ongoing peace talks in Juba will bring lasting peace. Though 57% of
A few days late, but here is this week’s roundup of the latest news relating to northern Uganda. We’re paying special attention to the terrible flooding that has devastated northern and eastern Uganda. As Jesse points out, it is a tragic irony that many who just left the displacement camps are being forced back into them because of this natural disaster.
The Good (Potentially): Sadly, there is little good news to report from the last week. The only bit of good news may be that the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo (MONUC) has said it is ready to help push the LRA out of Garamba Park if needed. This announcement is quite sensitive given the ongoing peace talks, but regional coordination to protect civilians is good news. We just urge that MONUC and the international community make sure they are cautious to not disrupt the ongoing negotiations that offer the best chance for lasting peace. Hasty and sudden military action in the past has inflamed the conflict, causing increased violence and backlash. Greater international engagement should take its lead from those most directly affected by the conflict.
The Bad: This past week has brought much bad news for northern Uganda, most critically the severe flooding in the eastern part of the country. Over 300,000 are believed to be affected by this natural disaster, including many already displaced by the longstanding war. The World Food Programme announced this week that it needs $64.6 million to feed these victims, along with many still suffering from the war. Meanwhile, new reports this week show that many returnees who have left the displacement camps lack food and other basic services. Children in particular are also suffering from high levels of violence-related mental illness. At the same time, there are new fears that violence could again break out in the region. In response to threats of being attacked in their DR Congo base, the LRA has threatened to resume its attacks on northern Uganda. In addition, festering tensions in southern Sudan threaten to upset the fragile peace agreement there. The mix of this news shows that urgent action is critical to support peacebuilding and prevent future violence.
The Ugly: As we mentioned above, this week’s “ugly” or tragic irony is that many in northern Uganda who were just beginning to experience relative calm were devastated by this week’s flooding. Just as with New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, this week proved that it is the poor who are most vulnerable to natural disaster. The marginalization and neglect of northern Ugandans did not cause this week’s suffering, but it is complicit in its severity.
That wraps up this week’s roundup. We’ll keep you posted on updates about the flooding and how we can all respond to help!
The World Food Programme (WFP) appealed this week to the international community for appealed for $64.6 million for people displaced by war and flooding in northern and eastern Uganda. “We are struggling to meet both existing and new, growing needs in Uganda,” said WFP Country Director Tesema Negash. “We particularly need cash now so that we can buy food locally and move it swiftly to those who need it most. Our teams are on the ground distributing food to flood victims, but access is difficult and without new funds, everything is in jeopardy.” This money is especially critical to assist an estimated 300,000 people affected by recent devastating flooding. Many of these were people who has just began returning home after being displaced for years by the war.
The New York Times has an article and online video today about “cracks in the peace” between the North and South of Sudan. The article points out that military tensions are high and the peace agreement between the two is in danger of collapse. The agreement gives southerners a referendum in 2011 on seceding from the country, however most observers believe the central government in Khartoum will never allow that to happen because of the rich oil reserves in the South. The LRA, which has terrorized northern Uganda, may again be used as a proxy militia to destabilize the region. For this reason, many in southern Sudan are closely following the negotiations in Juba and hoping for a final agreement. Meanwhile, recent field visits and reporting on southern Sudan suggest that the region is still devastated, with people living in squalid poverty in an arms-ridden and lawless environment. Many believe the conditions in south Sudan are far worse than any other area in the wider region. Yet, very little attention has been paid to this continuing tragedy.
300,000 people have been affected by Uganda
Threats by the LRA rebels that they will launch attacks in northern Uganda if their bases in DR Congo are attacked are causing tension in the north. The Lira resident district commissioner, Joan Pachoto, on Monday told the Government chief negotiator, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, that she had to call a security meeting last week to calm the growing fears. Rugunda however said the peace process is “irreversible.” Rugunda said a new force comprising of the Police, local administration law enforcement officers, militia and the UPDF would be on ground to ensure that peace prevails. Read more at The New Vision.
The Ugandan military announced yesterday that it is sending a formal complaint to Human Rights Watch over its recent report detailing UPDF abuses in Uganda