Christian Aid launches appeal for Uganda
Christian Aid is launching an appeal to help the victims of the long-running conflict in northern Uganda.
The conflict between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lordís Resistance Army (LRA) began in 1986 and is characterised by human rights abuses against civilians and extreme brutality.
The abduction of children by the LRA has terrorised communities in the north. Tens of thousands of children are too frightened to sleep in their homes in the countryside and are forced to take refuge in cities each night for fear of being abducted by the LRA. Abducted children, some as young as five, are used as porters, soldiers and sex slaves.
In June 2003 the fighting escalated from the north into the eastern Teso Region of Soroti, Kumi, Katakwi and Kaberamaido districts displacing more than 300,000 people. There are now more than 1.4 million Ugandans who are internally displaced as a result of this conflict.
Christian Aid partners are providing emergency aid to the newly displaced persons in Teso Region and educating people in camps about basic hygiene, nutrition and HIV awareness in order to prevent the spread of HIV in conditions where the virus is likely to flourish. It is also providing 472 displaced families affected by HIV with household kits containing food, cooking oil and utensils, blankets and soap. Some 11,000 displaced people in isolated camps are receiving mosquito nets vital for the prevention of malaria.
The aid agency also supports human rights partners and other civil society organisations in the north who are active in the search for a peaceful end to the conflict.
Christian Aid is calling on the Ugandan government to provide protection for its citizens. ìThere is great mistrust between government troops and the population, because of allegations of corruption and human rights abuses,î says Dan Silvey, Africa policy officer at Christian Aid. ìMany people in the north question the governmentís commitment to ending the war when many of its troops have been deployed outside the country.î
The agency believes that to break the cycle of violence and suffering, priority must be given by the Ugandan government, the LRA and donor countries such as the UK, to a concerted search for peace. This must include confidence-building measures by the Ugandan government to promote amnesty for LRA fighters and dialogue with LRA leaders. For its part the LRA must agree to cease its campaign of terror against civilians and announce a team willing to speak to the government.
Christian Aid says the UK government has a key role to play, as Uganda is the second biggest recipient of aid from the Department for International Development.
ìThe Sudanese peace process shows what is possible with active UK engagement,î says Dan Silvey.
ìThe UK should also apply the same resources in Uganda to bring an end to this long-running crisis."