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Multi-pronged plan needed on Ugandan conflict

Multi-pronged plan needed to address regional impact of Ugandan conflict – UN

In an effort to mitigate the serious regional impact of the 20-year-long rebellion in Uganda by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in which almost 2 million civilians have been uprooted, the United Nations top relief official is to visit the east African country later this month to outline a systematic multi-pronged approach.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, who is the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, will visit Uganda on 30 and 31 March, at the invitation of the Government to discuss a proposal that all aspects of the issue, including the humanitarian aspect, be more systematically addressed.

“This is an important first attempt by the UN to go beyond relief assistance and to try and develop a comprehensive plan of action for the northern Ugandan crisis,” the director of the Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Dennis McNamara, said today.

The delivery of humanitarian assistance in southern Sudan is seriously affected by the activities of the LRA, which has been accused of grave human rights violations, including the kidnapping of thousands of children as fighters or “wives,” and is now estimated to have more fighters in southern Sudan and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) than in northern Uganda.

The insecurity is threatening to disrupt the repatriation process of Sudanese refugees from DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) to their homes in southern Sudan, where only two days ago unknown intruders attacked a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) compound in Yei, killing a local guard and seriously wounding an Iraqi staffer and a second local guard.

The LRA is considered responsible for the January attack on UN peacekeeping troops in Garamba National Park in north eastern DRC, in which eight Guatemalan peacekeepers were killed.

Mr. McNamara recently led a week-long multi-donor mission to Uganda, accompanied by representatives of Canada, the European Commission, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States, meeting with senior government officials, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community leaders, both in the capital of Kampala and in the conflict-affected districts of Gulu and Kitgum.

He said the situation of the 2 million uprooted people was one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis, with crude mortality rates among displaced children in northern Uganda higher than those prevailing in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region and three times that of the rest of Uganda.

The mission discussed with the Ugandan Government the need for a comprehensive approach covering key areas of conflict resolution and reconciliation, humanitarian assistance, return and reintegration of formerly abducted children and ex-combatants.

UN agencies and NGOs “are scaling up their activities to meet the minimum standards for displaced populations while facilitating voluntary return to secure areas,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kampala, Martin Mogwanja, said. Humanitarian agencies would soon launch a further substantial appeal to ensure implementation of the scaled up response, he added.

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