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Will peace hold in northern Uganda?

October 20, 2008

uganda_lra_woman.jpgDriving from Gulu town in northern Uganda to Kitgum, you’re struck by how normal it all seems now. People are walking up and down the main dirt road that connects the two towns, bicycles dodge potholes and passing cars with precision, and the occasional bus plows through, leaving billows of dust in tow. But before Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) signed a ceasefire in August 2006, the high bush grass and sparsely populated villages made good cover for ambushes, and easy access for rebels abducting new recruits. This road, now full of life, used to be almost empty, people had moved furtively and quickly from one place to another, always watchful, fearful of running into rebels, in a war that has claimed thousands of lives.

But more than twenty years since LRA leader Joseph Kony began his rebellion, northern Uganda is seeing the first effects of peace; both good and bad. Agriculture output is rising as people return to the fields — the north could become Uganda’s bread basket. At the height of the war, some 2 million people were forced from their homes. Now, the majority have returned to their villages or to transition areas. But, it hasn’t all been easy. In fact, many new problems are emerging. An outbreak of highly-infectious Hepatitis E has killed more than 100 people so far. Many northerners are returning to villages, which have rotted during the long course of the war. Aid groups say conditions were often better in camps than in home villages. Many residents are returning to areas with little access to clean water or good sanitation. And this breeds more disease and more suffering.uganda_lra_soldiers.jpg

Adding to these problems, Kony’s rebels still haven’t signed a final peace deal to bring the conflict to a close despite a raft of agreements between LRA and Ugandan negotiators earlier this year. Many northerners say they are worried that peace will not hold. They keep one eye on the fields and another eye out in case the guerrillas return. Kony is now holed up and destabilizing the remote border regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan where the elusive leader has been accused of abducting children, killings and other mayhem. For these and other war crimes, the International Criminal Court in The Hague wants Kony. The rebels say they need more clarification about how Kony and two of his deputies will escape trial at The Hague before signing the peace deal. But Uganda says that Kony must first sign before the charges can be put aside. So the question of how to deal with returning rebels, who were notorious for using mutilation as a terror tactic, remains at the heart of peace efforts. 
There have been other tries at peace before, but they have all fallen through, and the north returned to war. Will peace hold this time? Will Kony come out of the bush and sign the final agreement? Or will the north and the region once again be sucked into conflict?
 

Comments

KONY IS TIRED,,EVERYDAY HE WATCHES HIS MEALS , HE AFRAID OWN SOLDIERS,,HIS LIFE IS HELL..HE WANTS TO END HIS WAR,, BUT HE AFRAID THE COURT,,,HE IS THE KILLER, RUFLESS MAN…SOON HE WILL BE CAUGHT BY HIS OWN SOLDIERS OR KILLED,,,WHAT HE SAW , HE MUST RIP…

 

Based on a fact-finding trip I took to northern Uganda in May 2007 with the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, there are two important factors not mentioned in this article that I believe are key to any lasting peace [agreement OMIT] between the LRA and Government of Uganda.

First, young people have been both primary victims and perpetrators of northern Uganda’s two decades of terror and violence. They also need to be part of the peace and rebuilding. Those leading the peace process must consult and engage young women and men. Second, donors must provide consistent funding for vital services and programs, including those led by local youth groups.

I’ve included a more detailed overview of both of these points here http://www.womenscommission.org/news/sho warticle.php?articleID=286 if you would like to read further.

Jenny Perlman Robinson, protection program officer

Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, New York

 

If westerns stop what they are doing in Africa, the entire continent will remain calm and peace. because they support this side, and then, the otherside. therefore, western please STOP what you are doing in Africa. then, we have to found to gether the lost leadership of the world, instead, we are talking about particular places, or countries.!!!!!!!!

 

Jack:

I enjoy your reporting. All very best wishes for the holiday season and new year. Stay safe.

RSH/

Posted by russell harmon | Report as abusive
 

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