Thursday, September 30, 2004

Ugandan army captures LRA leader's son

Sept 30 report says the Ugandan army killed 21 Lord's Resistance Army rebels in the north of the country in two days and captured 14 others, including LRA leader Joseph Kony's son, an army spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Military sources said Kony had come from his hideouts in Sudan with around 200 fighters.

The LRA has been fighting to replace President Yoweri Museveni's regime with one based on the Bible's Ten Commandments.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Ugandan Helicopter Gunships, Ground Troops Kill 25 Insurgents in Neighboring Sudan

KAMPALA, Uganda Sept. 19, 2004 — Ugandan helicopter gunships and ground troops attacked a rebel hideout in southern Sudan, killing at least 25 insurgents and capturing seven others, an army spokesman said Sunday.

The Ugandan army suffered no casualties in the attack late Saturday on Lord's Resistance Army rebels hiding in a forested valley, 90 miles north of the Ugandan border, Lt. Paddy Ankunda said.

Ugandan rebel leaders, who rarely speak to journalists, could not be reached for comment.

"It was a fierce battle. We basically used aerial power to bomb their positions," Ankunda said by telephone from Gulu, 225 miles north of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "The ground forces then closed in to check the area to see how many rebels had been killed."

The shadowy Lord's Resistance Army, fighting an 18-year rebellion, claims to be trying to overthrow Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, but the force mostly attacks civilians to steal food and abduct children for use as fighters, laborers or sex slaves.

Sudan backed the Ugandan rebels until December 1999, when the two countries signed an agreement that allowed the Ugandan army to flush out the insurgents in southern Sudan.

Ugandan troops entered southern Sudan in March 2000 to expel the rebels in "Operation Iron Fist."

[Courtesy Associated Press http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20040919_1542.html]

Sunday, September 12, 2004

In troubled Uganda, a glimmer of optimism - Rebels respond to broadcast of amnesty offer

Gulu, Uganda: Radio host Lacambel Oryema passed out Cokes to his young guests before handing the microphone to a former sergeant of the Lord's Resistance Army, a fanatical organization that has been battling the government of Uganda for 18 years, Africa's longest-running civil war.

Richard Onera said he was kidnapped nine years ago when he was just 13. He described the hardships of rebel life -- hunger, isolation and fear -- and appealed to three of his friends still hiding in the bush to give themselves up.

"Nyero, Ogwal, Kobi," he said, "our battalion leader ... has already surrendered, why not you?"

Onera, who participated in a radio program called "Come Back Home," had surrendered just three days before the broadcast. He is one of about 600 LRA soldiers and commanders to defect since January, a dramatic sign that the nearly two-decade war with Uganda's armed forces may finally be ending. The radio show, which is heard across northern Uganda, is credited by many here with enticing scores of rebels like Onera to put down their arms.

The conflict began in 1986 after a revolt by soldiers from northern Uganda's dominant Acholi tribe. They were angry that a southerner, Yoweri Museveni, had seized power. Since then, more than 30,000 people have died in fighting between the LRA and government forces, and some 20,000 children have been kidnapped by the rebels to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves, aid groups estimate. The ragtag militia is known for its brutality, hacking off limbs, lips or ears with machetes.

The insurgency, which is led by a self-proclaimed mystic named Joseph Kony who once said he would rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments, has displaced about 1.5 million people, many of whom live in squalid camps.

The war has been a constant blemish on an 18-year period of relative prosperity in Uganda. During Museveni's tenure as president, Uganda has made a remarkable social and economic recovery after three decades of war and widespread human rights abuses under two previous dictators, Milton Obote and Idi Amin. Since 1990, there has been a 20 percent reduction in poverty, a surge in school enrollment, more professional security forces and a decline in HIV/AIDS rates.

Although sporadic attacks by the LRA continue -- official and unofficial estimates say there are anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand rebels still active in northern Uganda -- the mass desertions are the most positive sign that Kony, who reportedly controls his soldiers through intimidation and pronouncements of his divine powers, is losing the hearts and minds of his soldiers.

Kony himself barely escaped capture in July after Ugandan troops destroyed his headquarters in southern Sudan. Two of his wives have turned themselves in and four more were captured, Ugandan army sources say.

"It's the first time in the history of this conflict that groups of soldiers are coming out with their commanders," said Lt. Paddy Ankunda, a Ugandan army spokesman. "It's definitely a sign of weakening."

The Ugandan armed forces, which many observers say have prolonged the conflict through corruption and incompetence, have scored several military victories in recent months, including the capture in July of Kenneth Banya, the LRA's third-in-command. The military claims that 1,255 LRA rebels have been killed and 993 have surrendered since the beginning of this year.

In addition, a peace agreement signed in May between Sudan and another rebel group, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, promises to deny the LRA access to its longtime refuge in southern Sudan, across Uganda's northern border.

"The Sudanese are finally getting some control over southern Sudan, so the LRA will have no base of control," said Ankunda.

Phillip Okin, a coordinator with the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an organization that promotes negotiations between the LRA and the government, says LRA rebels are scattered, hungry and demoralized.

"The pressure is very high, very productive for peace talks," said Okin.

Nevertheless, Ankunda says the army has no plan to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. "Our role is military," he said. "We mediate with fire."

According to recent interviews with LRA returnees, the increase in deserters is mainly due to the growing awareness among rank-and-file soldiers of a government amnesty program, which has been in effect since January 2000. Even though child soldiers are forbidden contact with the outside world, they have found out about the amnesty on transistor radios.

At Unyama, one of more than a hundred camps of mud huts scattered across northern Uganda, most residents greet talk of the war's end with guarded optimism.

"We just pray that (President Museveni and Kony) are coming together at last," said camp leader Raymond Lamoka.

Lamoka has good reason to hope for a quick solution. Many of Unyama's 24, 000 residents suffer from malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS and skin diseases. Hundreds of barefoot children with distended bellies roam alongside wide trenches teeming with sludge from overflowing latrines. Residents survive on donations from the U.N.'s World Food Program, which are delivered sporadically in armed convoys.

Unyama has also been attacked frequently by the LRA since 1996. As a result, many of its children make the hour-and-a-half walk each night to Gulu, the northern town that has been the epicenter of the war, to sleep in protected shelters, churches, and hospitals.

When the war does end, few here believe the wounds it has inflicted will heal quickly.

The Museveni government, which has been accused by its critics of downplaying the effects of the conflict, recently issued a report saying it will take at least 30 years to rebuild the north after the violence ends.

The government will also have to deal with an AIDS infection rate in the region that is four times the national average and prepare ex-rebels and the displaced for transition back to village life.

"Thuggery is a real fear," Okin says. "The war has gone on so long. So many have weapons hidden away."

Meanwhile, "Come Back Home" has inspired a radio station in the northern city of Lira to launch a similar program, and radio host Oryema continues to give substantial air time to rebel defectors.

"We don't call them rebels. We call them my brothers, my sisters," said Oryema. "For child soldiers guilt-ridden with the atrocities they have committed, this sounds so sweet to them."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

90% OF POPULATION IN NORTHERN UGANDA SHELTERING IN 180 REFUGEE CAMPS - 1.6m have fled their homes - 30,000 abducted as slaves and soldiers

Re the never-ending war between Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, the following extracts and photos [via Associated Press] have been copied, with thanks, from a recent post at Demagogue:

As the world focuses on the crisis in Darfur, three times as many people have been suffering for many more years in two other conflicts involving the Sudanese government.

And, while money has flowed in to help the 2 million people in Sudan's Darfur region who have been caught in 18 months of civil war, few funds are available for the 6 million Sudanese and Ugandans affected by related conflicts that have lasted more than 18 years.

A UN official recently returned from a trip to northern Uganda, where more than 1.6 million people have fled their homes because of an 18-year-old civil war between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army.

The rebels, operating from bases in the southern region of neighboring Sudan, rarely try to hold territory in Uganda and concentrate their attacks on civilians. The group has abducted more than 30,000 women and children to use as servants, concubines and child soldiers, according to UNICEF.

As a result, more than 90 percent of the population in northern Uganda has taken shelter in 180 refugee camps.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Ugandan government supported the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army in its battle with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Sudan's government, in return, backed the Lord's Resistance Army, a cult-like group that has little contact with the outside world.

UNICEF reports that more than 12,000 children have been abducted by the LRA since June 2002. [Photos from the AP]

Uganda1.jpg


Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, Monday, Feb 23, 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Uganda2.jpg


A Ugandan soldier walk past a charred body, Monday, Feb 23, 2004, in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the Lira in northen Uganda after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in which at least 200 people were killed. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

UN Bodies Want Northern Uganda Treated Like Darfur

This new blog, Uganda Watch, is in the process of being developed. Copies of reports are being filed here as part of an information gathering exercise, for future reference and posts. Today, All Africa reports that the UN wants Northern Uganda treated like Darfur. Here is a copy of the September 6, 2004 report in full:

Heads of United Nations agencies in Uganda have asked the international community to give greater attention to northern Uganda humanitarian crisis, like it is for Sudan's Darfur region.

Resident Representatives of the World Food Program (WFP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and UNAIDS, told visiting European Union parliamentarians the situation in northern Uganda was no different from Darfur.

"The Darfur issue is a very recent one but it has been given huge, world-wide publicity and support, while Uganda's case which is over 17 years is not treated equally," said Ken Davies WFP Resident Representative.

This was during a meeting at the UNDP office in Kampala, between some EU MPs and heads of European health NGOs from some of the latest entrants from the ex-East European states into the EU.

The UNDP Resident Representative to Uganda, Dr Daouda Toure, chaired it.

"The conflict in northern Uganda goes as back as 17 years and the last three years have been the most serious, as it has spread from three districts to eight or nine with people living in over 188 displaced camps," said Toure.

But Davies said Joseph Kony appeared to be under serious threat than ever before.

There have been LRA attacks last week; and no one is absolutely confident that the situation will not slide back. Mr Davies said there are almost an equal number [to Darfur's] of 1.6 million people, presently in about eight districts, displaced into 188 different camps of displaced persons.

"Its mind-boggling! The biggest camps have up to 75,000 people; they're in many ways worse off than any refugee settlements, because they have no UNHCR protection and supplies. So they're surviving on WFP food assistance; we're feeding about 75 percent kilo-calories a human being needs to survive and we buy about two-thirds of that food in Uganda, which ironically makes the WFP the largest purchaser of food commodities in Uganda.

The EU MP from Lithuania, Mrs Birute Vesaite led the team. Mr Toure said the UNDP and UN agencies are working hard to alleviate the situation in IDPs but said rebellion must end for better services and socio-economic development activities to take place.

Monday, September 06, 2004

HERE IS A "VIRTUAL" MEETUP - Today, for Sudan, in the blogosphere

Today, Monday September 6, is monthly International Sudanese Peace Meetup Day.

Meet ups are for people interested in peace for Sudan (and other topics).

You can sign up and get together - in person - with others in your locality. And even start your own Meet up.

Because I am unable to attend a Meet up, I have created a "virtual" Meet up via this post.

Below are links to bloggers - mostly regular reads from my sidebar - who have written about the Sudan.

Here's sending you all a warm hello - and a big thank you for your posts on the Sudan.

See you at the next virtual Meet up here in October :)

Bye for now. With love from Ingrid and Ophelia xx

PS Special thanks to Nick for alerting me to the Meet up date that enabled me to complete this, and the following two posts, in time.
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POEM FOR SUDAN
By Virginia Barros in Portugal

This poem was composed in English by Virginia Barros (blogging under the name of Monalisa) - of Sítio da Saudade - especially for today's Meet Up.

Virginia is a Portuguese blogger who lives in a small town in Portugal. See her beautiful locality in the photo of a bridge - here below. She kindly emailed me this poem for Sudan, in response to my previous post publicising the Sep 6 International Sudanese Peace MeetUp Day. Warm thanks to Virginia for her poem for Sudan:

In my comfortable
And warm room I sleep
I sleep quietly
And you die
Suffering horrors that my brain
Does not obtain to imagine
Because all of us sleep tranquil
And in the same minute
The great pain of the planet
Doesn’t affect us
We pass by lifeless
Indifferent and silently
and we wake up
Thinking to be happy
But the happiness
is spotted of blood and barbarity

Because we let the heartless
Take the world
and we do nothing.

sujet.gif
[Photo courtesy of Osterreich Hilft Darfur ORF ]
- - -

SUDAN: INTERNATIONAL MEETUP DAY
Sep 6 Labor Day - Sudan Campaign

Eugene Oregon at Demagogue received this email from Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity International and the Sudan Campaign:

This Labor Day, Monday, September 6, the Sudan Campaign is inviting everyone to take a “day on” rather than a “day off” to protest the ongoing genocide in Sudan. Demonstrations have been held at the Sudan embassy everyday since June 29th, and they will continue. Over 50 persons have offered themselves for arrest by committing non-violent acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the urgency and seriousness of the issue. Radio personality and activist, Joe Madison, has been a hunger strike for six weeks. In light of the UN findings that the Khartoum regime has not fully complied with the UN mandate issued over 30 days ago, it is time to move to a new level of pressure, economic.

The Sudan Campaign hopes to accomplish 3 goals at the Monday protest:

(1) To thank the Red Cross and other humanitarian aid organizations that have begun massive operations to feed the displaced and starving people of Darfur (celebrating the end to the fast of the Black Eagle, Joseph Madison)

(2) To decry the weakness of the response of the United Nations to the failure of the government of Sudan to comply fully with the mandate given them by the UN thirty days ago

(3) To announce and to launch a bold new strategy of our drive to bring peace to all of the people of the Sudan: Demand that U.S. citizens, their pension funds and their corporations divest themselves of all investments of money in their names in corporations doing business in the Sudan.

Please join us and/or distribute flyers available at the Sudan Campaign and Passion of the Present and encourage others to do the same.
- - -

DOWNLOAD GENOCIDE POSTER AND FACTSHEET
At www.blockstreet and building.com

Please feel free to download Sudan poster and factsheet - courtesy Passion of the Present at www.blockstreet and building.com

PARTNER UP:
Join with others to take creative action and blog about it.

REACH OUT:
Blog about contacting the media and elected officials.

GET LINKED: Join Save Darfur to moblise national action.

GIVE: For a list of aid organisations working in Sudan go to InterAction or DEC UK or download Songs for Sudan album (see link in next post here below)

COME TO: Passion of the Present for daily news and community.

SPREAD THE WORD: on the latest - Sep 12 Rally at the U.N. in New York - to Stop Sudan Genocide.
- - -

THANK YOU TO ONE AND ALL
For blogging the plight of Sudanese in Darfur and Chad

sudanese.jpg
Sudanese women are silhouetted at Abu Shouk camp in North Darfur, Sudan, where more than 40,000 displaced people are receiving food and shelter from international aid agencies. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) (September 01, 2004)

ENGLAND
Alistair Coleman (kudos to the BBC + Caversham for great coverage on Sudan)
The UK Today - thanks to Clive for the info on EDMs and how to make contact by fax and email with our MPs
Norman Geras - great weekly postings on Sudan

IRELAND
Gavin Sheridan - oil and China posts (btw great work being done in Sudan by Ireland's GOAL aid agency)

SCOTLAND
Scottish Webring members (and kudos to Scotsman.com for great reporting on Sudan)

WALES
Bob Piper - always kindly posted on Sudan
Doug Floyd lyrics of Sudan Song and list of the album's tracks
Doug at Quadrophrenia for posting the lyrics of Song for Sudan.

CANADA
Jim Elve at BlogsCanada - The Suffering Continues Unabated
Officially Unofficial - BlogsCandada - The Suffering Continues Unabated
BlogsCanada E Group Blog Multi-partisan Political Punditry
Jim Elve another awesome post on aid links courtesy BBC
E Group Blog - Multi-partisan Political Punditry - Arjun's great discussion thread on: "Should Canada Intervene?"
Boris Anthony another neat post on A failure of will
Allseasons
Lost Below the 49th: Darfur, ReDux - check out link to great piece on Romeo D'allaire (and his book)
Lost Below the 49th Crazy Canuck returns

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Arjun Singh Sudan Genocide: UN finds No Significant Progress...
Arjun Singh has written great posts on Sudan at CanadaBlogs e-group.
Sébastien Paquet - real neat posts as usual

FRANCE
Loic Le Meur (has not posted on Sudan, as far as I am aware, but Loic has many links in his sidebar for anyone wishing to connect up with French bloggers)

AUSTRALIA
Robert Corr - Time for action (best Sudan intro in the blogosphere)
Jonathan Rowbottom hosted interesting discussion thread

PORTUGAL

Virginia Barros' Sítio da Saudade: Sudão powerful post on Sudan (also see above Poem for Sudan)
Nelson

HOLLAND
Ado (who is Dutch and works in Tokyo at Joi Ito's)

JAPAN
Joi Ito re Images of genocide
Joi Ito's list of posts on Sudan
finalvent on China, Japan, Russia and oil
finalvent on Darfur
finalvent re Sudanese FM visit to Japan Sept 5-9 for talks on Darfur
finalvent - more on oil

MALAYSIA
Rajan's first of the great round ups on Sudan
Rajan's second great Sudan Genocide roundup
Rajan's third and, for the Sep 6 meetup, his latest Sudan Genocide roundup
Aiseh, man thoughtful post on Compassionate Infidels

USA
Jim Moore's Journal - April 22, 2004 post that started it all (here at this blog I mean!)
Jim Moore's Journal - April 23, 2004 post that I picked up on and have been blogging about ever since (*yawn*)
Sudan Day of Conscience
Ethan Zuckerman Top Ten Worst Dictators
Ethan Zuckerman Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower
ChaiTeaLatte Madhu kindly linked to several posts and got my blog Instalanched
Instapundit - regular posts on Sudan and esp re oil
Nicholas Genes has written some super posts - his doc buddy Jonathan Spector is now safely back home in the US after working with MSF in Darfur
Pauly's Side of the Truth - has just written another great post on Sudan
Jonathan Broad "Dallaire on Darfur: It is happening...again" (a must-read)
Gary Silberberg - regular postings on Sudan
Patrick Hall - exclusively Sudan posts - neat finds
Allied - one of the few great female bloggers writing about Sudan
Squirrel in DC - link to Samantha Power's great piece in New Yorker on her travels in Sudan
Cheers to The Register for publicising Oxfam's "Songs for Sudan" download album for Darfur.

[Note: sincere apologies to those I've missed out, I've not checked through four months of archives in my main blog. If I have missed you, please email me or comment and I will add your link here - or write a special post later on. Thanks.]
- - -

Note to Jim: Sorry, unable to post image of Passion of the Present's poster. Flickr is superb but for some reason I couldn't get it to show. Instead, I've posted a link to the download at www.blockstreet and building.com

Here is a photo of the town in Portugal where Portuguese blogger Virginia lives. Virginia kindly volunteered to compose, in English, a poem for Sudan, especially for today's "virtual" meet up.

Rui Vale Sousa.jpg

[Photo - with thanks to Sítio da Saudade - courtesy of Rui Vale de Sousa - apologies to photographer, this transmission has cropped right side of picture, full image avail at www.ruivaledesousa.com or copy and paste it into a page in your computer and whole image should appear]
- - -

UPDATE September 8, 2004:

Seems there is no accurate way of knowing who is all blogging about Darfur. Technorati's lists are invaluable (blogosphere would not be the same without it) as you can also search on key words Sudan and Darfur and read blogs that have published using those words during previous 7 days.

Trouble is, the list changes every week, and sometimes there are hundreds to click through. It takes too much time to keep up with. As much as we'd like, we can't visit every blog posting on Sudan. Also (but not too often) links to this site, and others, do not show up in Technorati's listings.

So, if you have posted on the Sudan and are not linked here or at Passion of the Present, please do please make contact in comments or by email - even if it is just to say the word hi - with your blog URL to link here for readers interested in seeing what others are saying, doing and thinking about the Sudan. Thanks. Don't be shy. These two writers took the time and trouble to comment:

AUTHOR OF SUDAN POSTS AT WAVEFLUX BLOG
Is the best sousaphone player in South Carolina

Hello and thank you to the author of Waveflux in St Louis, USA for his neat posts on the Sudan that include Who will save the people of Darfur? - and:

- contact info on officials who may have influence
- copy of a reply received from Sen. Jim Talent's office
- great post for the Day of Conscience
- and Passion of the Present's poster.

In his "about" section, Waveflux writes that a band director once called him the best sousaphone player in the state of South Carolina - and says "that's saying something, because those things are heavy" (but, to be fair he admits, the ones he played way back when were mostly made of fiberglass).

Sousaphone (SOO-zah-fone) is a brass instrument invented by John Philip Sousa which was adapted from the tuba. The Sousaphone has a forward bell which coils around to rest upon the player's shoulder thus allowing the instrument to be carried with greater ease while marching.

[Photo - with thanks to Waveflux - courtesy of G. Leblanc Corporation]

sousaphone.jpg
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ARCHITECTURE FOR HUMANITY
Hello to founder Cameron Sinclair

cameron.jpg

Hello to Cameron and thank you for commenting at my virtual meet up post at Passion of the Present.

Cameron is the the founder of Architecture for Humanity and was trained as an architect at the University of Westminster and at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

During his studies, he developed an interest in social, cultural and humanitarian design. His postgraduate thesis focused on providing shelter to New York's homeless population through sustainable, transitional housing.

After completing his studies, he moved to New York where he has worked as a designer and project architect. Since 1996, Cameron has worked on projects in more than 20 countries including England, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States. [read more ...]

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