Sunday, October 30, 2005

US and UK military experts seek to help in anti-LRA campaign?

Via Uganda-CAN:

Today's Daily Monitor reports US and British military experts have joined the hunt for leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army. According to the report:

"On 18 October, experts traversed West Nile to scour intelligence leads and assess the prevailing security situation in the region.

This military reconnaissance follows reported infiltration of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels into the jungles of the neighbouring Oriental province of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and parts of southern Sudan. There have been rising fears in local security circles that the rebels could launch a military offensive in parts of northwestern Ugandan anytime, inspite of thousands of Ugandan troops amassed to shield the porous frontier areas with the two countries.

A source said the military attaches were on the ground to assess UPDFs capability and explore how their respective governments could help bolster the anti-LRA campaign. They visited Koboko district and Oraba Customs Post at the Uganda/Sudan border."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Uganda's young night commuters and Gulu Walk Day

Thanks to Bill at Jewels in the Jungle for a special round up of news in honour of Gulu Walk Day.

See more on the "night commuters" -- 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. In May, the UN said there were about 42,000 ...

Friday, October 14, 2005

ICC Prosecutor: Sudan cooperates in Ugandan LRA rebel leader case

From The Guardian Friday October 14, 2005:

Associated Press Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Sudan is cooperating with the International Criminal Court in its pursuit of the first suspect indicted by the court - the leader of a feared rebel group - the tribunal's chief prosecutor said Thursday. The Ugandan rebel leader is being sought in three countries.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told The Associated Press in an interview that the court is also studying Sudan's efforts to prosecute Sudanese accused of war crimes in the troubled Darfur region. Sudan has rejected efforts by the court to investigate in Darfur.

While Sudan and the court differ over Darfur, Khartoum is cooperating in the case of Joseph Kony, one of five top Lord's Resistance Army members named in a sealed indictment compiled by prosecutors of the permanent war crimes court. Warrants for their arrests have been issued in Uganda, Congo and Sudan.

The armed group has waged war against the Ugandan government for 19 years, killing thousands of civilians and displacing as many as 1.9 million. It has in the past been backed by Sudan.

"We believe Sudan is ready to cooperate with Uganda in the arrest of Kony,'' Moreno-Ocampo said. "They cooperate with our work. Today they are doing what we are requesting.''

"The arrest warrant will help to reduce political support and financial support. ... This way they will be isolated,'' he said.

Moreno-Ocampo made the comments after meeting with diplomats in The Hague, including representatives from Sudan.

He said he hoped the court's first cases can go to trial in 2006.

Sudan once backed the LRA, even as Uganda supported the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army in its civil war with the Sudanese government. But Sudan and Uganda normalized relations in 2001, Sudan's southern civil war ended in January and the SPLM joined a national unity government, and Ugandan troops have since been allowed to operate in some parts of southern Sudan against the LRA.

Human rights groups say the Lord's Resistance Army has over the years abducted more than 30,000 children, forcing them to become fighters, porters or concubines. The rebels have killed thousands of civilians, but appears to have no clear political agenda.

The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.9 million civilians in northern Uganda, according to Human Rights Watch. The New York-based group alleges that the government forces have also committed crimes against civilians.

The International Criminal Court was established in July 2002 and is mandated to prosecute war crimes in the 99 countries which have ratified its founding treaty, the Rome Statute. It cannot prosecute crimes before the days of its inception.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Uganda rebel leaders named by ICC as world's most wanted men

Five commanders of a vicious rebel army of kidnapped child soldiers led by a brutal self-proclaimed mystic are officially the world's most wanted men, according to the International Criminal Court.

Full report by Mike Pflanz, East Africa Correspondent, Telegraph UK 8 Oct 2005.

More on this story from the BBC 7 Oct 2005: Ugandan top rebel leader indicted.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Submissions Welcomed For Spotlight On Darfur 2

If you wish to contribute a blog entry for Spotlight on Darfur 2, please contact Eddie Beaver at Live From The FDNF in time for 16 October 2005 deadline.

Jim Moore, co-founder of Sudan: Passion of the Present, recently posted a note from Eddie on this initiative with an important PINR report from Michael Weinstein.

Note, Catez Stevens in New Zealand initiated and hosted Spotlight on Darfur 1 round up of posts authored by 14 different bloggers from around the world. Jim Moore, in praise of this, writes:

"In my view this work is so fine as to be almost historic. It combines the literary quality of a small, carefully edited book, with the global accessibility of works on the web."

Spotlight On Darfur

Last May, Catez also produced The Darfur Collection.

Image courtesy Tim Sweetman's post Let Us Weep.


Uganda-CAN Op/Ed in The New Vision!

Well done and congratulations to Uganda-CAN on the opinion piece in The New Vision.

With all good wishes and best of luck to them in their great work.


Former drug dealer frees abducted child soldiers in Sudan and Uganda

Simon Young, blogging out of Auckland, New Zealand says,

"This guy is just asking to have a movie made about him."

Read why, in this article:

Former Drug Dealer Frees Abducted Child Soldiers in Sudan and Uganda
By Maria Sliwa
October 5, 2005

Children liberator from Ugandan LRA camps

Sam delivering food supplies to the children at the orphanage (Maria Sliwa). Photo courtesy Sudan's Nimule Hero - Children liberator from Ugandan LRA camps. 8 Oct 2005.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

DR Congo troops to Uganda border

"We have transported 300 Congolese soldiers to Aba in our helicopters and another 200 are on the way there by road," United Nations military spokesman Thierry Provendier said, Reuters reports.

The force will number 1,000 men by the end of this week, he said.

Full report (BBC) October 4, 2005.


UN airlifts Congo troops to deal with Uganda rebels in DRC

The U.N. has airlifted several hundred Congo government soldiers to a remote corner of the country to deal with heavily armed Ugandan rebels who have entered and refuse to disarm, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday.

The helicopters flew the troops to Aba, an isolated town near the Democratic Republic of Congo's northeastern border with Uganda and Sudan, U.N. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Provendier said in Kinshasa.

Full report Kinshasa, Oct 4 (Reuters)


Uganda's LRA rebels in daylight ambush

LRA rebels are suspected of ambushing a civilian pick up truck in north east Uganda, shooting the driver and two passengers, and killing a fourth with an axe, says a BBC report October 4, 2005.

The BBC report states DR Congo has warned Uganda not to try to disarm an LRA force in its territory. Excerpts:
In recent days, our correspondent says, hundreds of people fled their homes after suspected LRA rebels burnt down up to 200 huts in the east of Uganda in Teso region - an area which has been relatively free from LRA attacks for almost two years.

Last Thursday four farmers were killed near Palenga in Gulu district - their bodies hacked with machetes.

Some 450km away in the north-east of the DR Congo another group of the LRA continues to keep the Ugandan military busy. Trucks full of soldiers and military hardware have been moved to the Congolese border. The army says this is a precautionary measure to prevent LRA rebels who recently crossed into DR Congo from attacking Ugandan civilians.

Last week, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said if the Congolese authorities failed to disarm LRA members, the Ugandan army would enter neighbouring Congo to do so.

[DRC UN Ambassador] Mr Ileka asked the Security Council to impose sanctions on Uganda including an arms embargo and the suspension of international aid.

Note, the report ends by saying "the UN mission in DR Congo has said it intends to use all means necessary to drive out the LRA group."


Monday, October 03, 2005

I killed so many I lost count, says boy, 11

Excerpt from UK Telegraph report by David Blair in Gulu 3/8/2005:
During 19 years of war, the LRA has abducted 20,000 children, enslaving and indoctrinating them for use as soldiers and sexual playthings. More than 10,000 have been taken in the past three years alone. Uniquely in the annals of guerrilla war, Kony's army consists almost entirely of abducted children and, within and without his forces, he brutalises and murders as many as possible.His war has no coherent demands. The LRA is a fanatical cult rather than a political movement.
Note, the US recognises the LRA as a terrorist organisation.


ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Joseph Kony

Uganda-CAN Oct 3 points out a New Vision report that says the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant of arrest for Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) chief Joseph Kony, according to a senior UN official in Nairobi over the weekend:
UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said the warrant of arrest was written on Tuesday but had not been publicised by the ICC, a unit of the UN, until now. "We believe he (Kony) is in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but we cannot say as to whether the UN forces can apprehend him," Gambari revealed when asked whether UN forces were in pursuit of Kony.

The warrant for Kony, wanted for atrocities committed in northern Uganda, comes as Uganda appealed for help to bring rebels based in the Congo to book. "The ICC has issued a warrant for the arrest of Ugandan rebel leader but it has not been publicised. The issue here is where to locate Kony and the capacity of the UN to apprehend him," Gambari said.

Kony's crimes include torture and mutilation, abduction, sexual violence, forced recruitment and the killing of people the LRA considers are supporters of President Yoweri Museveni.
ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Joseph Kony

Click on this photo of Jospeh Kony to learn more.


Ugandan troops amass at border of DR Congo

From Michael at Uganda-CAN October 3, 2005:

Thousands of Ugandan troops have begun gathering at the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the West Nile region of Uganda, purportedly in preparation to engage Lord's Resistance Army forces across the border, reports AllAfrica. A contingent of approximately 400 LRA forces crossed into Congo over a week ago, and requests from UN and Congolese officials for the LRA to disarm have been ignored.

Although Uganda's Minister of Defense last week claimed that Uganda would under no circumstances enter the DRC, President Museveni has this week stated that if UN and Congolese troops do not take immediate and aggressive action, Uganda's military would be sent across the border. Uganda played a central role in destabilizing eastern Congo during the civil war that ended in 2004, and many fear that if Ugandan forces cross the border again, more chaos could ensue. Several small armed insurgencies still plague the region today.

Uganda-CAN urges the Government of Uganda and UN to delay attacks on the group until robust efforts have been made to open negotiations with the rebels.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

South Sudan: Ugandan's LRA attempting to close road between Juba and Yei?

Further to Uganda Watch post Oct 1 on Uganda's re-opening of road linking southern Sudan, Sudan Activism Blog features a SouthSudan.Net opinion piece by Laku Modi of Greater South Sudan Sep 16.

Note this excerpt:
"Recently, the road between Juba and Yei, which was then closed for nearly 16 years, was officially opened by the South Sudan Government authorities who for the first time tried to normalized the life of its people as part of CPA deal. However, no sooner had people started using the road than the Ugandan rebels attack residences who are living along side Juba-Yei road. Is the latest Lord Resistance Army Rebel of Uganda (LRA) attack on Loka, an attempt to close this road again? It is unbelievable for me to hear the development which was announced less than a week ago being countered by LRA criminals.

Obviously LRA is not acting alone in such operations but with the direction of Sudan Government whose interest is to block South Sudan transport and telecommunication system, trade and commerce, and other development sectors with her African countries counterparts so as to enable them tie South Sudan to depend on North Sudan like in the previous years. By so doing, Sudan government have assumed that they will be able to create a conducive atmosphere to their pipe dreams of making "unity of Sudan attractive". That's why the NIF have embarked on introducing LRA forces ranging from Eastern Equatoria to central Equoteria and now as far as Western Equoteria, a region which LRA didn't know before."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Uganda reopens road linking southern Sudan

The Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) have reopened the road between Yei in Uganda and Juba in southern Sudan, local press reported. Excerpt from China's Xinhua 13 Sept 2005:

Yei town lies 93 km from the Uganda-Sudan border. The road opens trade opportunities between Uganda and southern Sudan.

Uganda's Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that the 160 km road was reopened last week by Lt. Gen. Abujon, accompanied by Maj.Gen. Peter Cirillo, representative of Bajr El Jabel state, Uganda's consul in Juba Busho Ndinyenka and other SPLA/M commanders and local officials.

The convoy of 20 vehicles was received by a tumultuous crowd of Juba residents, who have paid dearly for commodities transported by air from Khartoum.

"The road is seen as an avenue to get supplies from Uganda more cheaply. Uganda's Foreign Ministry has called upon Ugandan businessmen to take advantage of the road to trade with Sudan, particularly southern Sudan," the report added.


Sudan government troops to join hands with Uganda to force out LRA

From China's People's Daily Online 5 Sep 2005:

The Sudanese government said on Sunday it is working with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Ugandan government to remove the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from Southern Sudan.

In a press statement, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail termed the southern Sudan-based LRA as "a terrorist group which would harm Sudan as well as Uganda."

"Contacts are underway between Sudan and Uganda at the level of the presidency and Ministry of Defence to banish any existence of the LRA inside the Sudanese lands," Mustafa said.

LRA rebels have killed over tens of thousands of civilians and displaced over 1.4 million people in their 19-year rebellion in northern Uganda.

Kampala and Khartoum signed an agreement in 2002 to allow the Ugandan government troops to launch cross-border operations against the LRA, which has several bases in southern Sudan.

In the statement, the top Sudanese diplomat pointed out that after the signature of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese government and SPLM in January, the southern government is responsible for the south's security.

The government of Khartoum, however, has taken the responsibility of protecting Sudan's borders and defending the national security including the south, he added.

Source: Xinhua