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Cablegate: Northern Uganda: Caritas Defends Its Role in the Peace

VZCZCXRO7125
RR RUEHGI RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #1389 2901308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161308Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0790
INFO RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0746
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KAMPALA 001389

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL EAID MOPS UG
SUBJECT: NORTHERN UGANDA: CARITAS DEFENDS ITS ROLE IN THE PEACE
PROCESS

1. Summary: Catholic NGO Caritas Uganda answered Government of
Uganda (GOU) critics in a published newspaper advertisement that
explained the organization's role in providing food and supplies to
the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under the auspices of the Juba
Peace Process. Caritas felt it necessary to defend itself after the
Ugandan Minister for Disaster Preparedness Tarsis Kabwegyere
publicly admonished Caritas for providing food to the LRA. Donors
no longer provide regular food deliveries to the LRA, but have
agreed to supply limited amounts of food for combatants attending
specific meetings called by the Mediator and Facilitator of the
peace process. Nonetheless, the exchange illustrates the GOU's deep
distrust of Caritas. End Summary.

2. On October 7, Caritas Uganda responded to Minister of Disaster
Preparedness Tarsis Kabwegyere's public comments at an international
conference on banning cluster munitions held in Kampala. Kabwegyere
stated that Caritas should stop feeding the LRA rebels. The
following is a verbatim transcript--including several minor
inaccuracies and spelling and punctuation errors--of Caritas'
response entitled "NGOS ASKED TO STOP FEEDING LRA CARITAS CLARIFIES
ON THE MINISTER'S ALLEGATION."

3. BEGIN QUOTE. In the "New Vision" of September 30, 2008 page
three, it was stated by the Honorable Minister for Disaster
Preparedness, Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere that "Caritas should stop
giving food to the rebels so that they get under pressure to sign
the peace agreement. But as long as they continue to get supplies,
they will see no reason of ending the rebellion. There is a moral
question on why Kony continues to receive food. Whoever is sending
food to the jungles is committing a mortal sin especially if they
are Christians."

We would like to clarify this statement which is likely to mislead
the public and the world which is already too anxious and waiting
for that day of signing the Peace agreement. Caritas Uganda which
is the Social Pastoral arm of the Catholic Church at the Uganda
Episcopal Conference is not currently supplying food and medicine to
the rebels. It is to be pointed out that the Uganda Government
started negotiating for Peace with the rebels mediated by Lt.
General Salva Kiir Mayadart (sic), the President of Southern Sudan
in Juba in October 2006, Caritas Uganda was requested and mandated
by the mediating team (CHMT) consisting of the Republic of Uganda,
Southern Sudan Government, the rebels, a consortium of donors and UN
representatives, to supply food and medicine with set guidelines to
the rebels in the assembly area - Rikwangba in southern Sudan
bordering Garamba forest in the Republic of Congo. As a result a
Partnership Agreement for the support to the implementation of COHA
(Cessation of Hostilities Agreement) between the GOU and LRA/M
project was executed between Danida - HUGGO (Danida Human Rights and
Good Governance Liaison Office) and Caritas Uganda. The supplies
were checked and monitored regularly by the monitoring team in Juba
until the date set for signing Peace Agreement April 2008. We are
however grateful for the trust put in Caritas Uganda to carry out
this noble assignment to end the conflict.

When the signing flopped, Caritas also ended its mandate. In
compliance with the guidelines, Caritas contributed to the peace
process by keeping the rebels out of rebel activities in search for
food. This was done to the satisfaction of the mediation team and
the donors until the fixed date for signing the Peace Agreement.
The Honorable Minister of Internal Affairs, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda is
and has been aware of all the steps that we have been engaged in.
As a matter of fact we have been in constant consultations with him.
It is therefore surprising for Honorable Professor Kabwegyere to
make such misleading and irresponsible statements of that kind. On
the contrary, he should thank Caritas Uganda and the entire Catholic
Church leadership for the peaceful contribution we have made in the
peace process and also the spiritual and material help which the
respective Churches have given to the suffering people in Northern
Uganda. Signed, Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, National Director,
Caritas, Uganda. END QUOTE.

4. Comment: Post notes that Kampala-based donors, who previously
funded Caritas' food deliveries through the Juba Initiative Fund to
support the peace process, are acutely aware of the sensitivity of
providing food to the LRA. The donors ended regular food deliveries
after LRA leader Joseph Kony failed to show up for meetings to
discuss the Final Peace Agreement in April and May. Since then,
donors have agreed only to provide food for meetings called by the
Mediator, Government of Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar,
and the Facilitator, U.N. Special Envoy for LRA Affected Areas,
Joachim Chissano. The donors have agreed that food supplies would
be limited to feeding combatants at the venue for the duration of
meetings only. Our position has been that we do not provide food to
the LRA, but that other donors may do so for the duration of
specific meetings in limited quantities. Despite Caritas' defense,
the GOU continues to believe that LRA supporters in the diaspora use
Caritas shipments to send contraband to the LRA. End Comment.
HOOVER

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