The plight of people displaced by war and violence is the main topic of a "Living Letters" world churches visit to Uganda, which began yesterday and continues through to 2 November 2008.
An international ecumenical delegation sent by the World Council of Churches (WCC) is discussing with representatives of churches, state and civil society about the protection of refugees, with a specific focus on sexual violence and the vulnerability of children.
Uganda has recently returned to relative stability after decades of military dictatorship and civil war. The government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), that had infested northern Uganda for nearly two decades, have signed a truce in August 2006 and a permanent ceasefire in February 2008 at talks in Juba, Sudan.
According to the United Nations refugee agency UHNCR, more than half the 1.8 million internally displaced persons in the north have now returned to their villages of origin or to transit sites closer to their homes. However, some 3'000 widows and orphans have nowhere to return to following the death of family heads in the 20-year war in the north or the sale of their land by relatives, UNHCR stated.
The WCC delegation members are learning about peace-building in Uganda and sharing experiences made in their own churches in Australia, the Middle East, Asia and different regions of Africa.
The ecumenical delegation members are being sent to Uganda as "living letters" to express the solidarity of the WCC fellowship, which comprises 349 churches worldwide.
Until 2010, several Living Letters visits take place each year throughout the world in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.