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Northern Uganda: Death rate is higher than Iraq

Rate of death in northern Uganda is three times higher than Iraq: new report

The current rate of death from the war in northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq following the Allied invasion, finds a new report released today. The release of the report comes as the UN Under-Secretary General Jan Egeland holds high-level meetings in Kampala with the Ugandan government and other international representatives to address the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda.

The report by a coalition of over 50 leading non-governmental organizations, Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU), reveals new facts and figures showing the brutal impact of the conflict on the civilian population between the Government of Uganda and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The coalition includes Oxfam International, Care International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, and International Rescue Committee as well as national and community based organizations.

Almost two million people have been displaced by the conflict. A staggering 25,000 children have been abducted during 20 years of war. One quarter of children in northern Uganda over ten years old have lost one or both parents.

The National Program Coordinator, Uganda Child Rights NGO Network and Chairperson of CSOPNU, Stella Ayo-Odongo said: "Northern Uganda is one of the world's worst war zones. The violent death rate in northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq. It is tragedy of the worst proportions. This conflict cannot be allowed to fester any longer. A peaceful resolution of this conflict must be found."

The report, "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda" shows the devastating economic cost of the war estimated at US$1.7 billion (GBP £1bn) over the course of the last two decades. This is equivalent to the USA's total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002 and is the double the UK's average annual bilateral gross public expenditure on aid to Uganda from 1994 to 2001. The average annual cost of the war to Uganda is US$85 million.

Kathy Relleen, Oxfam's Policy Advisor in Uganda, said that twenty years was enough: "The Ugandan Government, the rebel army and the international community must fully acknowledge the true scale and horror of the situation in northern Uganda," said Relleen. "Twenty years of brutal violence is a scar on the world's conscience. The government of Uganda must act resolutely and without delay, both to guarantee the effective protection of civilians and to work with all sides to secure a just and lasting peace."

Kevin Fitzcharles, Director, Care International said: "UN Under-Secretary General Egeland is clearly pushing the Security Council to act, yet none of his recommendations are being implemented. It is time for the Security Council to recognize that its failure to address this crisis is a scar on its record and undermines its credibility. The UN must act by passing a resolution urging the Government of Uganda to protect its own people."

CSOPNU is calling upon all parties involved to take up Jan Egeland's challenge and to act decisively. The coalition is urging the UN Security Council to adopt Egeland's recommendation to appoint a panel of experts to investigate the activities of the LRA. The appointment of a high level envoy to reinvigorate peace efforts, address all aspects of the crisis and report back to the UN Security Council on progress has also received
widespread support though as yet no action has been taken.

Despite the scale of the crisis and its huge impact on the region, the Secretary General has not yet been publicly engaged. A recent meeting in Geneva offered hope for a comprehensive plan of action on the conflict but urgent action to make this plan a reality is needed. Benchmarks must be established to enable the Government of Uganda to show clear progress in monitoring peace, protecting the civilian population, and addressing the humanitarian crisis. Egeland's visit to Uganda raises hope for concrete action to address this devastating crisis.

Key figures from "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda":

Rates of violent death in northern Uganda are three times higher than those reported in Iraq following the Allied Invasion in 2003. (The violent death rate for northern Uganda is currently at 146 deaths per week, (0.17 violent deaths per 10,000 people per day). This is three times higher than in Iraq, where the incidence of violent death in the period following the allied invasion was estimated to be 0.052 per 10,000 people per day.

20 years of conflict have had a devastating impact on children.

• 25,000 children have been abducted during the course of the war.

• 41 per cent of all deaths in the camps are amongst children under 5.

• 250,000 children in northern Uganda receive no education, despite Uganda's policy of universal primary education.

• An estimated 1,000 children have been born in LRA captivity to girls abducted by the rebel army.

• At the times of heightened insecurity up to 45,000 children "night commute" each evening and sleep in streets or makeshift shelters in town centers to avoid being abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The World Food Program (WFP) currently delivers food to 84% of all households that are dependent on food aid. Almost 50 per cent of children are stunted due to malnutrition in the Kitgum area.

The economic cost of the war to Uganda after 20 years is $1.7 billion (£1bn). This is the equivalent of: Double the UK's gross bilateral public expenditure on aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2001 OR the USA's total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002.

The annual cost of the war to Uganda is $85 million. This is the equivalent of:

• The cost of providing clean, safe drinking water to 3.5 million people per year, or the total population of Liberia

• Uganda's total annual income from coffee exports

• The entire budget of the World Bank's five-year Northern Uganda Social Action Fund

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