Saturday, October 23, 2004

UN warning: N Uganda most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world - 20,000 children suffering


Northern Uganda is suffering the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world with 20,000 children caught up in a war, the United Nations warned.

[Photo courtesy]
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Rebellion in northern Uganda 'is worse than Darfur war'

Copy of report by David Blair, Africa Correspondent (Filed: 23/10/2004)

A guerrilla war in northern Uganda, where 20,000 children have been taken captive be brutal rebels, is the world's worst "neglected humanitarian emergency", the United Nations said yesterday.

Jan Egeland, the UN's under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, described the insurgency waged by the Lord's Resistance Army for the past 18 years as a "moral outrage".

After briefing the UN Security Council in New York, Mr Egeland said: "Northern Uganda to me remains the biggest neglected humanitarian emergency in the world."

Devoid of any popular support, the LRA resorts to abducting children, then brainwashing and brutalising them for use as soldiers and sex slaves.

The number of children kidnapped has doubled in the past two years and at least 1.6 million people - virtually the entire rural population of northern Uganda - have been forced to flee their homes and move to squalid refugee camps.

The number of refugees has trebled since 2002 and exceeds the total in the war-torn region of Darfur in Sudan. But northern Uganda has received only a fraction of the international aid given to Darfur.

President Yoweri Museveni's regime insists that the war against the LRA is being won. On Thursday, Mr Museveni described the rebels as a "crushed force" - a claim he has regularly made for at least the past six years.

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, said the war was "one of the great crises out there which is not recognised enough".

The LRA received weapons and training from Sudan's Islamist regime throughout the 1990s.

That support has come to an end, but Joseph Kony, a self-styled "prophet" who leads the rebels, has rejected offers of an amnesty and vowed to fight on.


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