Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (July 12-31, 2008)

DE RUEHKM #1090/01 2181326
R 051326Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (U) Summary: The following Northern Uganda Notes provide
information on the situation on the ground and USG activities aimed
at meeting Mission's 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) There were no indications that the Lord's Resistance leader
Joseph Kony will sign the final peace agreement. On

July 22, South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with President
Museveni to discuss border security and the LRA. Kiir dispelled
media reports that the South Sudan government had asked the Uganda
military to pull out of its territory. Kiir said his government
remained in favor of a peaceful solution to the northern conflict.
The Uganda Government peace team is waiting for a report from UN
envoy Special Envoy Joachim Chissano and the Chief Mediator, South
Sudan's Vice President on when Kony is expected to sign the final

3. (U) On July 30, James Obita, former leader of the LRA delegation
to the Juba peace talks applied for amnesty with the Uganda Amnesty
Commission. Obita was dismissed as head of the LRA delegation in
June. In an interview, he claimed he was not fired, but that when
the peace negotiating team's mandate ended, the team ceased to

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4. (U) A recent Action Contre La Faim's (ACF) nutrition survey in
Gulu and Amuru Districts shows 1.4 percent increase of Severe Acute
Malnutrition (SAM) and 8.7 percent increase of Global Acute
Malnutrition (GAM). The last nutritional survey conducted in Gulu
and Amuru districts by ACF in May, 2007, revealed SAM of 0.4 percent
and GAM of 3.1 percent. Lacor St. Mary's Hospital in Gulu also
reported 1,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition since April this
year. The increase in malnutrition might be caused by a variety of
factors as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return, the decrease
in food security as they become more reliant on their own
production, increase in diarrhea disease due to decreased access to
potable water, poor sanitation and access to healthcare. A similar
trend was seen in Lango region last year as IDPs returned to their
homes from camps.

5. (U) All districts in the Acholi sub-region have now established
Camp Phase Out Committees and have begun the process of assessing
conditions to recommend closure and/or interventions to help make a
camp a sustainable community. Across the region, IDP returnees
continue to gradually increase in number. Of the 1.1 million people
living in IDP camps in the Acholi region at the end of 2005, 24
percent had returned to their homes at the end of June 2008.

6. (U) Heads of UN Agencies, development partners and GOU local
officials met in Gulu to discuss relief to development transition,
PRDP implementation, and monitoring. Discussions highlighted a
critical need for camp closure guidelines and consistent guidance on
rights of both landowners and IDPs. Discussions also focused on
expectations for the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for
Northern Uganda (PRDP), and the need for coordination, monitoring
and oversight at both central and district levels. At the community
level, few citizens understand or even know about the PRDP.

7. (U) USG Activities: USAID/Food For Peace (FFP) contributed 12
million USD to World Food Program (WFP). As with previous
contributions this year, FFP is continuing to earmark within WFP's
Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) to ensure that
contributions target areas of strategic interest to USAID/Uganda.
This includes Karamoja and IDPs.

8. (U) USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) provided
900,000 USD to UNICEF to augment Hepatitis E response in northern
Uganda. WHO reported over 5,700 cases and 100 deaths since the
outbreak began in Kitgum District in November 2007. The outbreak
has now spread to neighboring districts. In addition to the UNICEF
contribution, OFDA has extended three water/sanitation agreements in
Kitgum and Pader totaling about 3.5 million USD. Meanwhile, on July

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31, the GOU announced an emergency plan to fight the epidemic which
will cost six million USD (ten billion shillings).

9. (U) USAID/Office of Transitional Initiatives (OTI) Northern
Uganda Transition Initiative NUTI program approved three new grants
in July totaling approximately 215,000 USD. The first, to the
Internews Network will help strengthen the capacity of key radio
stations throughout northern Uganda to increase citizen exposure to
quality and timely information. The second grant will renovate and
furnish the administrative offices in Odek sub-county, Gulu
District. The office building deteriorated to such a degree during
the LRA conflict, that it is no longer functional. The renovation
will help deliver essential government services to people in the
sub-county and will act as a visible sign to citizens that stability
is returning to the region. The third grant will fund a hand-over
ceremony officially ending the role of IDP camp commanders, giving
way to the normal Local Council (LC) government system in place in
the rest of the country. The ceremony is symbolic of the GOU's new
role in the development of northern Uganda. Musicians and dancers
will perform, speeches will be given by area leaders, and token
gifts of appreciation will be distributed to camp commanders for
their volunteer work during the war.

10. (U) In addition, USAID/OTI launched the first small grant to
the Lalogi Farmers' Forum in conjunction with local government.
Plows and other farm equipment were provided to the Forum to help
returning households open land. The farm equipment was identified
as a need in the joint government/UN camp phase-out assessment.

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11. (U) UN agencies could not verify rumors of alleged movements of
LRA elements at the borders with Sudan. Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGOs) in the north were advised to maintain their
operations as usual.

12. (U) A group of about 30 rebels were reported to be in the
proximity of Kajo Keji while a second group of about 40 were
reported in the western parts on southern Sudan near Yei. The
second group scattered into four smaller groups after a rebel was
shot and killed during contact with Sudanese People's Liberation
Army (SPLA). During these movements, two Sudanese civilians were
abducted in Kajo Keji.

13. (U) On July 11, Fourth Division Commander Brigadier Charles
Otema announced that the UPDF will withdraw its troops from IDP camp
detachments in the north at the end of July. The move is aimed at
enabling the Uganda Police Force to effectively keep law and order
in the communities. Meanwhile, on July 14, the police started a
door-to-door community policing exercise in Gulu District.

14. (U) The Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Tarsis
Kabwegyere reported that the Humanitarian Demining Department in the
Office of the Prime Minister had destroyed a total of 15,214 items
of unexploded ordnance and 20 land mines since 2006. He told the
Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Affairs that 321 pieces of
explosives ordnance were yet to be destroyed. The affected
districts include Pader, Kitgum, Gulu, Amuru, Soroti, Oyam,
Bundibugyo and Kasese. Meanwhile, some IDPs are reportedly hesitant
to leave camps for fear of mines in their fields.

15. (U) On July 22, military chiefs from the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Uganda met in Entebbe to discuss the
way forward in dealing with negative forces in the region. Uganda's
Army Commander Major General Aronda Nyakairima reported that an
earlier meeting in June, LRA rebels had continued to recruit, kill
and amass wealth. He urged the regional governments to take
military action instead of talking about eradicating the negative

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16. (U) The U.S. based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reportedly urged
the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include members of the
Uganda Peoples' Defense Force (UPDF) on its list of those who should
be investigated for the commission of atrocities in the north. In a
July report, HRW stated the omission of the UPDF from the list gave
credence to reports by politicians and organizations that the ICC
was biased indicting the top LRA rebel leaders. UPDF's acting
spokesperson Major Chris Magezi said the call should be ignored. He

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said anybody with evidence against the UPDF should direct it to the
government investigative agencies.

17. (U) The media reported that LRA faced an imminent split. One
group believes that the signing of the peace deal should be delayed
until the Chief Mediator provides some clarifications and
assurances. The other group fears that the continued delay could
endanger the ceasefire and the peace agreement.

18. (U) On July 21, IRIN's PLUSNEWS highlighted a report by the
Gulu Save the Children Organization (GUSCO) and the Acholi Community
Empowerment Network, which found acute poverty was forcing girls as
young as 14 years into early marriage and prostitution in parts of
northern Uganda affected by the war. According to the report, a
combination of extreme poverty, a large number of child-headed
households, and the high mobility of internally displaced families
were among the factors that have led to girls being subjected to
sexual abuse or engaging in prostitution. The study found that the
perpetrators of child prostitution included aid workers,
businessmen, farmers, teachers, relatives, and armed personnel such
as members of the LRA and the UPDF. The researchers found that
raising awareness of child prostitution and HIV had contributed to
the recent increase in the reporting of the crimes, which are
traditionally underreported. GUSCO's program officer pointed out a
gap between reported cases and those that made it to the courts.
"Few cases reach the judge," he said. "There are a variety of
reasons for this, including parents using the reported case as an
opportunity to extort money from perpetrators."

19. (U) On July 27, security officials in Gulu arrested three
civilians who were masquerading as LRA brigadiers, namely, Collins
Otunu aka Lalango, Charles Kibwola aka Brigadier Abudema, Onen Ngora
Walter aka Captain Matata. UPDF's fourth Division Spokesperson
Ronald Kakurungu confirmed the arrests saying the trio was posing as
LRA defectors.

© Scoop Media

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