Ugandan Rebels Pressed to Release Women, Children
Security Council Presses Ugandan Rebels to Release Women And Children
New York, Nov 16 2006 3:00PM
Welcoming the ongoing peace talks between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which have fought a brutal civil war for 20 years, the Security Council today called on the rebel group to immediately release all women, children and other non-combatants that it holds.
In a presidential statement read out at a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, the Council called for peace and security to be restored and the rule of law re-established in the areas affected by the fighting and that “those responsible for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are brought to justice.”
Talks are taking place in Juba, southern Sudan, in a bid to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end a conflict that has caused the death, abduction or forced displacement of 2 million people across northern Uganda and southern Sudan – as well as the killings of eight UN peacekeepers in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
During the conflict the LRA became notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape.
The group’s leader Joseph Kony and four other senior LRA figures have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders in September that it has offered an amnesty to the leadership because it believes this is the best way to peacefully end the conflict.
Today’s statement from the 15-member body, which was read out by Council President Jorge Voto-Bernales of Peru, welcomed the renewal on 1 November of the cessation of hostilities agreement struck between the two sides in August and pledged to continue to monitor developments closely.
Members praised the Ugandan Government for setting up a committee to monitor efforts to relieve humanitarian problems in northern Uganda and also its work so far on a peace, recovery and development plan that aims to tackle longer-term issues.
The Council “looks forward to further progress on improving the living conditions for civilians in northern Uganda, measurable against clear benchmarks, and urges Member States to maintain their support to these efforts.”
The presidential statement also thanked the Government of Southern Sudan for its help in facilitating the talks and the cessation of hostilities agreement.