Saturday, December 13, 2008

UGANDA: Child Soldiers (Resolve Uganda)

Resolve Uganda is the campaign to end the war in Uganda, made up of people and organizations who believe that peace is possible and that together we can make it happen.

I spent this past week hosting a colleague whose job it is to investigate crimes committed by the LRA to meetings in Washington, D.C. - and what he had to say will stick with me for quite some time. In as much as it was disturbing to see the evidence of what the LRA has been doing and hear of the attacks and abductions that are going on in the Congo, it was also difficult to see people's resistance to believing that this is actually happening. So much progress was made over the past few years, it seems that we're not ready to come to terms with just how badly LRA atrocities continue to impact communities in the region.

But facts are facts - and we know that this war is far from over unless we act decisively. Rather than lose heart, we should look at the progress we made as proof that our leaders do indeed respond when we act - and that we're capable of changing this increasingly dire situation.

The Good: US Congress passed legislation this week that aims to restrict assistance to governments who use children as soldiers.

The Bad: Nearly two weeks after LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign a final peace deal, little international consensus has emerged on how to address the rebel threat.

The Ugly: A UN official said that the situation in Congolese communities affected by the LRA "could hardly be any worse."

PEACE Process

* Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni agreed to talk directly with Joseph Kony to urge the rebel leader to ink the final peace deal he refused to sign last month.
* Uganda's defense minister called on the Congolese government to "challenge" LRA rebels in its territory. The minister was speaking at a gathering of regional government security officials, who gave special mention to the LRA threat in the region.

Situation in Northern Uganda

* Uganda's Amnesty Commission announced that over 22,000 Ugandan rebels have been granted amnesty since 2000, including thousands from the LRA.

* International Crisis Group released a report outlining the measures needed for a sustainable peace in northern Uganda.

International Response

* Congress passed legislation this week to restrict US military training, financing, and other defense-related assistance to governments who use children as soldiers. The legislation could affect US assistance to several countries in Africa, including Uganda, the DR Congo, Chad and Sudan. (The UN reported in 2006 that as many as 5,000 children were serving in Uganda's military).

* The UN food agency began airlifting urgent humanitarian assistance to communities in northeastern DR Congo affected by recent LRA attacks. At least 70,000 people are estimated to be in need of assistance.

Thanks for your continued support and commitment. Have a great weekend!


Paul Ronan
Senior Policy Analyst, Resolve Uganda

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