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).