Global Policy Forum

UN "Appallingly Negligent" of Uganda War


By Andrew Cawthorne

January 28, 2005

Distracted by Iraq and the Asian tsunami, the United Nations is ignoring a flare-up in Uganda's 18-year-old civil conflict, an aid group said Thursday. "The United Nations Security Council has been appallingly negligent of the conflict in Uganda, failing to pass a single resolution," said Emma Naylor, head of Oxfam in Uganda.

The British-based group said the Security Council should have used a meeting on African humanitarian issues in New York Thursday to focus on one of Africa's longest-running wars. "The meeting comes as northern Uganda teeters on the brink of a full return to war," Oxfam said in a statement. "The U.N, must do everything in its power to ensure that the recent breakdown of peace talks does not signal a return to all-out war. With the tsunami and Iraq dominating the news, Uganda mustn't become the silent victim," it said.

The most significant peace talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) for a decade stalled on Dec. 31 and fighting has resumed in the remote Kitgum district. Moving on foot through the northern region's thick forests and rolling hills to the Sudan, the LRA rebels have spread fear through a campaign of mutilations and the kidnapping of thousands of children as fighters, porters and sex slaves. The conflict has made more than 1 million people homeless.

Led by self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, the LRA has never given a coherent account of its aims beyond opposition to President Yoweri Museveni. He called Wednesday for the LRA to lay down arms and accept a government amnesty. displaced people falling from 1.6 to 1.3 million people.

In New York, Jan Egeland, the emergency humanitarian coordinator, in his briefing to the Security Council, said the security environment had improved somewhat in northern Uganda over the past two years with the number of displaced people falling from 1.6 to 1.3 million people.

The United Nations is helping Uganda's mediator, Betty Bigombe, in talks with the LRA and will coordinate international aid once fighting stops, he said, warning the council not to forget northern Uganda. Egeland asked the council to back Bigombe and members issued a press statement doing so. But the council has not adopted resolutions or put northern Uganda on its agenda.

Diplomats said the Ugandan government, whose army is accused of human rights abuses in the north, objected to council intervention and received backing from several other members, including China, cautious about interfering in a nation's internal affairs.




FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.