Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Uganda: 'It's a very, very major crisis'

Knock, knock. Hello, is anybody there? For the past eight months, I feel as though I am the only blogger in the world posting on the Uganda crisis. The situation in Uganda is far worse than than of Darfur and yet nobody in blogland seems at all concerned (I'm not even African - where are all the Africans in blogland - why don't they seem to care enough to speak out?)

Here is a copy of a report entitled "Uganda: It's a very, very major crisis" by Marc Carnegie, UN, 11 May 2005:

The United Nations's top emergency relief official on Tuesday pressed the Security Council to take on the crisis in northern Uganda, where a brutal rebellion against the government has been raging since 1988.

About 1.4-million people have been displaced as a result of the uprising by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), said Jan Egeland, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"We've had atrocious massacres and mutilations of civilians in the past few weeks again," Egeland told reporters before a closed-door briefing to the council that he said would call for international focus on crises in Africa.

He called the LRA "possibly the world's most brutal insurgency group" and said that, unlike Sudan's Darfur region, the issue of northern Uganda is not getting enough international attention.

"I'm inviting the council, as I'm inviting all who have influence on the parties, to clearly say that there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution of the crisis," Egeland said. "It is a very, very major crisis."

The LRA rebel movement is notorious for adding to its ranks by raiding camps for displaced people and kidnapping children, forcing the boys into combat and the girls into sexual slavery.

Egeland said there are now about 42 000 "night commuters" in the region -- children who flee their villages or camps every evening in order to find a safer place to sleep, usually in the streets of larger towns and cities.

The LRA, which operates from bases in northern Uganda and southern Sudan, has been fighting President Yoweri Museveni's secular government since 1988, ostensibly to replace it with one based on the biblical Ten Commandments.

Several attempts to sign a truce and launch formal peace talks have failed amid growing mistrust between the warring sides, and the International Crisis Group last month said the peace process is in critical condition.

Egeland's appeal came as part of a broader campaign, he said, to turn world attention to Africa.

"Of the world's greatest humanitarian challenges at the moment, I would say all are in Africa -- and they merit more of our attention and our political and financial resources.

"Africa is the challenge of our generation and we're not responding adequately," Egeland said. "More can be done to put things right."

Egeland, a familiar face on television screens across the world since heading the UN's disaster relief effort after the Asian tsunami in December, said his message is that money put toward Africa is money well spent.

"There are as many success stories as failures in Africa," he said, citing the largely successful efforts to start rebuilding Angola and Sierra Leone after years of fighting.

"There is no place where we get more out of every dollar," Egeland said. "And if we invest, there is no continent that will give as much return on the investment."

He warned in a particular about the "triple threat" in Southern Africa -- a combination of drought, bad governance and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

"I also want the Security Council to understand that in the Southern Africa region, it's actually a question of survival for many communities," he said. -- Sapa-AFP


TrekEarthMoonlight Photo by Mimi Samuel: "After a long day of viewing animals, sitting on the patio at the Mweya Safari Lodge, drinking a cold beer, and watching the moon come up over the Kazinga Channel. Doesn't get much better than this :-)"

This photo is in the title bar of this blog but it is too small to do the photo justice. I am posting it here again to show how much water is in Uganda. More photos later. Uganda is extremely lush, with lots of dense jungle and great wildlife.

It is easy to hide from rebels in Uganda - not like in the Sudan where vast swathes of flat dirt baked by hot sun provides no sanctuary. What is the attraction of living in Sudan's deserts where everyone fights over drinking water? You'd think they'd relocate to Uganda and make a go of it there with their children. Areas of Chad and Sudan seems too harsh to be habitable.


1 comment:

sokari said...

Do a search in my blog for "uganda" and pick of a few stories you may have missed. cheers!