High-level meeting must lead to immediate improvements for two million displaced people in northern Uganda
GENEVA, 20 March 2006 – As high-level talks on the crisis in northern Uganda begin in Geneva today, ten leading non-governmental agencies call on the international community to urge the Ugandan government to resolve the conflict peacefully and ensure that the 2 million people internally displaced in the north of the country are properly protected and assisted without further delay.
The meeting has been convened by the United Nations to agree on main elements of an action plan to address the crisis in northern Uganda with the Ugandan government and a core group of donor countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and Canada.
The talks follow a Security Council resolution, passed in January, which recognized the regional threat the conflict was causing and called on the Ugandan government to protect its population and to ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers.
It has become clear during the past 20 years of the conflict that the Ugandan government has either been unwilling or unable to protect the civilian population in the north. Moreover, the government’s focus on trying to get a military solution has undermined peace mediation efforts.
It has perpetuated a conflict that has led to countless killings of innocent civilians, the abduction of over 24,000 children by the rebel Lord Resistance Army and the displacement of 90 per cent of the north’s population into squalid and unprotected camps. Over 900 civilians die each week as a direct result of the conflict.
Both the Ugandan military and the Lord’s Resistance Army continue to commit grave human rights abuses with impunity.
The non-governmental agencies signed on to this statement appeal to the UN and donor countries to:
call on the Ugandan government to fully commit to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and return to the negotiating table;
appoint a high-level envoy to coordinate efforts to address all aspects of the crisis and to report back to the UN Security Council;
establish benchmarks (see below) to enable the Ugandan government to show clear progress in restoring peace, protecting the civilian population, and addressing the humanitarian crisis.
The people of northern Uganda deserve the promise of peace to be fulfilled. The non-governmental agencies therefore call on the UN and donor countries to take further action through the UN Security Council in a timely and decisive manner should the situation in the north not improve within a reasonable period of time.
For more information, please contact:
Jens-Hagen Eschenbächer, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center
Caroline Green, Oxfam International
Marina Percy, Act for Stolen Children Campaign