United Nations must act to bring peace to northern Uganda

Published: 1 November 2005

The United Nations Security Council is today being urged to actively address the worsening humanitarian situation in northern Uganda, by international aid agency Oxfam.

The United Nations Security Council is today being urged to actively address the worsening humanitarian situation in northern Uganda, by international aid agency Oxfam.

Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will brief the Council for the second time this year to discuss Africa’s forgotten emergencies. But aid agencies working in Uganda fear that this briefing will once again result in no real action being taken.

Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes in a conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda that has lasted 19 years. Half a million people have been killed. Attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully have faltered in the last few months with a return to military action by both sides.

“In the last few months we have seen a significant rise in violence in northern Uganda,” said Emma Naylor, Oxfam’s Country Program Manager Officer in Uganda. "The Lord’s Resistance Army has committed horrific atrocities. In turn, the military strategy employed by the Government of Uganda is not protecting its civilians; instead we are seeing increased suffering and numbers of civilian casualties. We need a renewal of commitment from all sides to finding a peaceful solution to this conflict."

Oxfam has called on the UN Security Council to address the massive humanitarian protection issues facing the people of northern Uganda. Sexual violence is commonplace and is perpetrated by both parties to the conflict. Access to land is becoming more difficult and communities are unable to make use of the rainy season for planting crops. Water and food supplies are inadequate by international standards. Overall security in the camps is deteriorating. There are also increasing reports of attacks and abductions by the LRA within southern Sudan.

Oxfam criticised the international community for moving prematurely onto a focus on post conflict reconstruction, while hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in immediate need of humanitarian assistance and protection. In Kitgum town, 16,000 people, mostly women and children, are being forced to commute from their homes to sleep rough in town centres because of insecurity.

“It’s all very well to plan for post-war reconstruction, but the fighting is getting worse. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in fear of attack. The UN must take a lead on ensuring the protection of civilians, including urging the Government of Uganda and LRA to renew the ceasefire and recommit to negotiations towards peace,” said Oxfam’s Emma Naylor.

Facts and figures

Oxfam has been working in Northern Uganda since 1986, providing humanitarian assistance and seeking ways to protect livelihoods. Oxfam is also a member of Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) advocating for a peaceful end to the conflict

Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) is a coalition of about 40 national and international NGOs from across Uganda working together to support a just and lasting peace in the North. CSOPNU research showed that the conflict has cost Uganda's national economy at least US$1.33 billion since it started, approximately 3% of GDP or US$100 million annually.

The Acholi areas of Northern Uganda have suffered from persistent insecurity since the mid 1980s. For 19 years, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) has waged a civil war against the Government of Uganda. The LRA has targeted the people across Northern Uganda (from Adjumani to Soroti) and in the sub-region, including South Sudan. This has led to massive and persistent disruption, hardship, dislocation and suffering for the people within that region and far beyond. It is now one of Africa's longest running open conflicts and nearly 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Contact Information

Greg Puley, USA 1 917 674 6442
Caroline Green, USA 1 202 321 7858
Emma Naylor, Uganda 256 (0) 77 710 017
Kathy Relleen, Uganda 256 (0) 78 500 058