Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (February 1-29, 2008)


DE RUEHKM #0360/01 0650732
R 050732Z MAR 08






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The following Northern Uganda Notes provide
information on the situation on the ground and USG activities aimed
at meeting Mission objectives in northern Uganda. These objectives
include promoting regional stability through peace and security,
good governance, access to social services, economic growth, and
humanitarian assistance. Post appreciates feedback from consumers
on the utility of this product and any gaps in information that need
to be filled. End Summary.

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2. (U) The Government of Uganda and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)
signed two final documents on disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration and the implementing protocol on February 29. The
parties also agreed to extend the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement
until March 28. The date for the ceremonial signing of the Final
Peace Agreement was not set, but should occur before March 28. The
LRA delegation said it needed to visit the International Criminal
Court (ICC) in The Hague to get assurances that a request for a
deferment of the arrest warrants from the U.N. Security Council
would be honored.

3. (U) The overall agreement consists of five sections. The
parties agreed on comprehensive solutions to the conflict, which
includes special attention to the economic recovery of northern
Uganda, positions for northerners in the government, and a fund for
reparations for conflict victims. The accountability and
reconciliation mechanism includes the creation of a special division
of the High Court to handle prosecutions of the most serious crimes.
The promotion of truth telling and traditional justice mechanisms as
a part of the alternative justice mechanism, and amnesty for
eligible individuals also were included. The agreement on
cease-fire and on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation,
reintegration, and reinsertion provide for receiving and resettling
former combatants through orderly demobilization. The implementing
protocol for the agreement provides for the Government of Uganda to
make a request to the U.N. Security Council for a deferment of the
ICC arrest warrants after the LRA fully assembles.

4. (U) USG Activities: Senior Advisor for Conflict Resolution Tim
Shortley traveled to Kampala and then Juba on February 18 to serve
as the U.S. observer to the peace talks. P/E Chief participated in
Juba from February 26 to March 1.

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5. (SBU) Large numbers of LRA moved into Central African Republic
on/about February 15, according to humanitarian organizations. LRA
leader Joseph Kony reportedly remained in the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC). There have been sightings and attacks carried out by
various groups, including the LRA, in southern Sudan. Some small
groups involved in attack may contain LRA mixed with other armed
elements. Armed militias and bandits also have been seen in Eastern
and Western Equatoria.

6. (SBU) The re-establishment of civilian authority in northern
Uganda continues to be a challenge for the judicial system. There
are 670 people in Gulu Prison, which has a capacity of 200. Patongo
Prison holds 200 prisoners despite its capacity of 74. There were
increasing numbers of referrals of offenders from other districts,
only one resident High Court Judge, and increasing crime rates. In
Lango, judicial officials report a case backlog, due to an increase
in the number of defilement cases being handled due to changes in
the Sexual Offences Bill amendments. Previously, defilement was a
capital offence and cases were only heard at the High Court.

7. (U) Across the Acholi sub-region deployment of Special Police
Constables (SPCs) continued. As of January, approximately 1680 SPCS
were deployed and 2320 others were undergoing training. However,
most SPCs remain at the sub-county level and have not yet deployed
to the lower, parish level. In Kitgum, lack of housing continued to
hamper police deployments. Two hundred units per sub-county are
planned. Additionally, training of SPCs remains a concern. SPCs
receive one month training compared to nine months for regular
police prior to deployment. The International Committee of the Red
Cross and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights
are trying to fill this gap with supplemental training on child
rights and gender-based violence, and an introduction to human

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8. (SBU) The USAID Northern Uganda Advisor reports that district
governments are now represented at Protection Cluster meetings. The
decision to invite government representatives was made collectively
by UN agencies and NGOs, and demonstrates a change in the operating
environment. Top protection concerns were forced eviction from
camps and gender-based violence, which require government action.
This request contrasts sharply from the period of time between 2000
and 2005 when human rights abuses by the LRA and UPDF were the top
protection issues.

9. (SBU) Subject to continued progress on the peace front, most
U.N. agencies are planning to phase out humanitarian relief programs
to support internally displaced persons in the LRA affected areas of
Acholi sub-region by mid-2009, and by the end of 2008 in Lango
sub-region where 99.6 percent of the population has left camps. In
Acholi sub-region, the estimated camp population has decreased from
1.1 million in December 2005 to 659,459 in May 2007 with 497,155 in
transit sites and 44,749 in their villages of origin.

10. (U) Guidance on the closure of camps in Acholi sub-region,
which languished for several months, has new momentum behind it.
The lack of guidance led to mixed messages and frustration among
both beneficiaries and service providers. UNHCR with the support of
the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator iss trying to reengage the GOU
on camp closure guidelines and returns in general. At the field
level UNHCR has been engaging NGOs and local government on district
specific processes. UNHCR has agreed to return to monthly
population movement reports (no new numbers had been released since
November 2007).

11. (U) UNOCHA reports that a group of 250 children, most of them
from Amuru District, were conned of varying amounts of money by a
local NGO, Faith for Out Action, which promised them subsidized
vocational training. The NGO's project coordinator was arrested in
Gulu and the children were returned to their homes by authorities.

12. (SBU) Long-standing stress and trauma in northern Uganda has
resulted in a high prevalence of mental disorders, according to
UNOCHA. Only minimal psychological support for victims is available
due to inadequate numbers of professional staff in the field. Only
25 percent of health posts have been filled in Gulu despite a 30
percent increase in salary for all medical staff.

13. (U) Severe staff shortages, particularly in return areas,
plagued the health sector in general. In Gulu District, UNHCR
reports one functioning health center in 26 return sites visited.
In three locations, health services were received at the camp and
were within the five kilometer national average for health centers.
In four locations, health facilities existed, but were not
functioning. Out of 91 return areas in Amuru District, UNHCR
reports only five were functioning. Staff housing was considered to
be one of the most important incentives to recruiting personnel to
rural areas.

14. (U) USG Activities: On February 20, Centers for Disease Control
and USAID Directors traveled with a Congressional staff delegation
to Gulu to observe Indoor Residual Spraying funded through the
President's Malaria Initiative.

15. (U) Thirty-seven district planners, health, education, community
development and chief accounting officers, and local
non-governmental organizations participated in a train-the-trainer
program under USAID's Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS, and
Tuberculosis (NUMAT) program from February 21-22. The training
program's objective was to create a cadre of local trainers skilled
in coordination and delivery of health services at the local
government level within the region. Particular attention was paid
to developing strategies to more effectively coordinate HIV/AIDS
programs in a post-conflict situation.

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16. (U) On February 19, Human Rights Watch welcomed the agreement
on accountability mechanisms between the Government and LRA. In a
press release, HRW Director for International Justice Programs,
Richard Dicker, stated "Today's agreement could be a major step
toward peace and justice for northern Uganda, but the true test lies
in how the agreement is put into practice." HRW also released an
in-depth analysis which emphasized that Uganda needed to hold fair,
credible trials for those who committed the most serious crimes.
"We look to the parties, the mediators, international observers,
major donors, U.N. Envoy Chissano, and other relevant U.N. actors to
ensure that fair and credible trials take place so that justice and
sustainable peace can be achieved."

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