Friday, July 31, 2009

An update on the situation in Northern Uganda

The following update on Northern Uganda is from Paul Ronan of "Resolve Uganda" Terry--With LRA violence worsening across central Africa, the former UN envoy for LRA-affected areas told the UN Security Council that the international community must do more to bring an end to the rebel attacks and support lasting peace. Members of the US Congress have certainly taken these words to heart, as more than 100 Representatives have now signed onto the House version of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. Last Thursday, Resolve Uganda released a statement about this historic legislation, emphasizing why this bill is such a crucial first step in advancing lasting peace in the region. You can read the statement here.
The Good:
The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act continued to gain momentum this month, and now has 24 cosponsors in the Senate and 103 in the House of Representatives.
The Bad:
A cutback in international aid to northern Uganda is contributing to worsening food security for thousands of people there.
The Ugly:
LRA rebels have raided several villages in the Central African Republic this month, marking a resurgence of LRA activity there.
Regional Security
LRA attacks in the DR Congo have increased in frequency and severity over the past three months. In the first three weeks of July, 49 people were killed and 147 kidnapped during 55 LRA attacks on Congolese communities.
Recent LRA attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) have forced over 500 people to leave their homes and flee into South Sudan. There are unconfirmed reports that the LRA is concentrating its forces in the CAR, and the Ugandan army is reportedly extending its operations against the rebels into the CAR.
Situation in Northern Uganda
Thousands of people are in danger of starvation in northern Uganda, many in regions where international food assistance has recently been scaled back due to lack of funding. Local leaders are increasingly concerned that a famine is developing in regions that are especially food insecure.
Human Rights Watch researcher Maria Burnett wrote in the Monitor that beneath the recent controversey over alleged renewed rebel activity in northern Uganda lies a problematic pattern of "illegal arrests… and long-term incommunicado detention in ungazetted locations" carried out by the Ugandan military.
The Ugandan government announced a 10% cut in its 2009/10 defense budget. The move is likely to be applauded by Ugandan politicians and international donors who argue that high military spending prevents adequate investment in development and social services.
International Response
Joaquim Chissano, former UN envoy for LRA-affected areas, recommended that the international community implement a two-pronged strategy of pursuing negotiation as well as military action to stop LRA violence in central Africa. Giving his final briefing to the UN Security Council, Chissano also stressed that the credibility of any negotations would be measured by the level of LRA leader Joseph Kony's direct involvement.
Responding to Chissano's statements, several northern Ugandan leaders emphasized the need to resume dialogue with Kony. They also expressed concern about the possibility of future military operations against the LRA, citing the failure of past Ugandan offensives to stop rebel violence. Riek Machar, former chief mediator of the Juba peace talks, issued a similar statement earlier this month.
The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act has now been cosponsored by 127 Members of Congress, an unprecedented show of Congressional support for lasting peace in Uganda.
Best,Paul RonanSenior Policy Analyst, Resolve Uganda
--------------------------------------Resolve Uganda is the campaign to end the war in Uganda, made up of people and organizations who believe that peace is possible and that together we can make it happen.

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