Uganda: The Cost of War

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July 4, 2007: The United Nations has helped build an airfield near the Congo's Garamba National Park and not far from the Sudan-Congo border. The airfield has a diplomatic mission: to facilitate negotiations between Uganda and the LRA. The exact location of the airfield is "confidential" but diplomats and locals know where it is. The airstrip can handle small, fixed-wing aircraft. Diplomats and aid officials can fly in and out of the area in Cessnas. Previously, officials had to use helicopters. Building the airfield publicly recognizes the LRA's new "permanent headquarters" in Garamba. For over three years, Uganda has been claiming that the LRA used the area as a base.

July 2, 2007: Uganda has agreed to rely on Ugandan law to adjudicate "war crimes" committed within Uganda by LRA rebels. This agreement has been in the works for some time. This is a way of finessing the International Criminal Court's (ICC) indictments of senior LRA leaders. There is some question as to whether or not the ICC will agree to drop the indictments even if Uganda claims jurisdiction.

June 29, 2007: In talks held in Juba, Sudan, the Ugandan government and LRA representatives agreed to use traditional tribal reconciliation and peace ceremonies as part of the peace process in northern Uganda. This new agreement will also require reparations, restitution, compensation for deaths and damages. It is not clear how the reparations will be determined. Tribal ceremonies played a role in peace-making in south Sudan, prior to Sudan's 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.

June 20, 2007: A study by U.S. researchers estimates that the LRA abducted between 50,000 and 75,000 people, from 1986 to 2006. Young women are often used by LRA commanders as "wives," and up to 10 percent become pregnant while in captivity, contributing to the length of their stay. In some LRA-occupied regions, as many as 10 percent of the inhabitants were abducted. While some eventually returned to their communities, others died in captivity. A summary of the report can be found at: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/06/15_LRA.shtml

Is the figure credible? Yes. The second point (that ten percent of the population in some regions was abducted) is in line with reports from NGOs working in northern Uganda. There were many reports of entire villages being looted and the villagers being abducted to serve as "support personnel" (carrying weapons, ammo, food, etc).

 

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