Friday, May 13, 2005

Oxfam slams U.N. for failing to act on Uganda war

Note links within post at two and two makes five blog May 11 entitled "LRA continues to haunt Uganda, UN does nothing" -
NPR has some great reporting from northern Uganda;
Joseph has some great recent posts about the war, the IDPs, and the relationship with Sudan;
Also on Joseph's site are some pictures of ServLife's work in the region.
Also, Reuters' report by Daniel Wallis, copied here for future reference:

Oxfam slams U.N. for failing to act on Uganda war

KAMPALA, May 11 (Reuters) - The United Nations has failed again to act decisively to end war in northern Uganda, despite being briefed on "intolerable" humanitarian conditions in the troubled region, British aid agency Oxfam said on Wednesday.

Violence has increased in the north since government negotiations with rebels stalled in February. Aid agencies working in Uganda have long called on the Security Council to put pressure on both sides to restart the talks.

On Tuesday, U.N. aid chief Jan Egeland briefed council members on the conflict, which pits government troops against rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and has forced 1.6 million people from their homes.

Emma Naylor, Oxfam's country manager in Uganda, said she was disappointed that after the meeting the Security Council -- which has never issued a resolution on the north -- agreed only to encourage both sides "informally" to return to talks.

"Nearly two decades of horrific human suffering have passed, and the security situation is getting worse, not better. Atrocities against civilians are increasing, as well as abductions of children in Uganda and Southern Sudan," she said in a statement.

"Yet the Security Council have once again failed to take any concrete steps in support of a peace process. We would have at least expected a presidential statement urging both sides to restart peace talks and setting out what future measures the council will take."

Oxfam has called on the U.N. to ensure the protection of civilians and to urge Uganda's government and rebels to call a new ceasefire and recommit to fresh peace talks.

Fighting intensified after landmark talks -- including the first face-to-face meeting between government and rebels for a decade -- stalled in February with the surrender of the LRA's top negotiator.

Uganda's military says it killed 84 LRA fighters last month alone, and the rebels have stepped up attacks on refugee camps, shooting and hacking their victims to death.

Ugandan commentators say the government would prefer a military victory over the rebels, but its helicopter gunships have been unable to stamp out small groups of fighters moving swiftly on foot through thick forests and rolling grasslands.

Joseph Kony, the LRA's self-styled prophet leader, is believed to be hiding in lawless southern Sudan with some of the thousands of children kidnapped by his cult-like group to serve as fighters and "wives".

His movement, which Egeland said was possibly the world's most brutal, has never spelled out a clear list of demands.
"Week by week the security situation is getting worse and hundreds of thousands of people cannot even sleep safely in their own homes," Naylor said.

"But the Security Council has never done more than offering a few words of sympathy. We are wondering just how bad it has to get before they will actually take action."

[Via two and two makes five - with thanks]


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