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JUSTICE AND PEACE NEWS.

A NEWSLETTER OF THE JUSTICE & PEACE COMMISSION OF GULU ARCHDIOCESE (UGANDA)

APRIL 2006 Click here for version with pictures

 

CONTENT

 

1.     Editorial: RESETTLEMENT YES, DECONGESTION NO

 

2.    Northern Uganda – South Sudan Cross Boarder Peace building

 

3.    People live hand-to-mouth in the north

 

4.     Elections, Umeme, Water and KarimojonG

 

5.    Does Uganda need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

 

6.    Peace prayer gave birth to Madi Elders Forum

 

7.    Arua JPC trains camp commanders

 

8.    CHRONOLOGY OF RECENT EVENTS April 2006

 

9.    Some of our activities of the month

 

10.   Faiths Devise tactics to Combat HIV/AIDS

 

11.   Access to Safe Water a Human Right - Holy See

 

 

 

RESETTLEMENT YES, DECONGESTION NO

 

Speaking at the celebration of the Chrism Mass last April 11, archbishop John Baptist Odama expressed hopes that the resettlement programme announced recently by the Government would make a difference in improving people’s lives in the North, and at the same time asked his priests working in Gulu archdiocese to watch the way this exercise is conducted.

 

Everybody is in favour of making the 1.6 million internally displaced persons in the North resettle back at their homes, with sensible provisions for their security. Many of them have lived a most inhuman existence in camps for even ten years now and have a right to a better future.

 

But archbishop Odama’s word of caution expresses a question mark many different people have: is the Government planning to resettle people back in their original homes or just to decongest camps splitting them into smaller units at Parish levels?

 

This querie has to be taken seriously. We have seen documents of the famous Joint Country Coordination and Monitoring Committee (JCCMC) on Northern Uganda presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at international fora and one of its expected outputs is “a successful programme of decongestion of IDPs from current camps populations of 10,000-60,000 to camps of 1,000-3,000 people to make them more manageable”.

 

If this is the case, this is not good news for the IDPs. You cannot consider that people have been “resettled” when they have merely been shifted from a big camp to a smaller one. The Government should remember that all attemps of “villagisation” tried in other African countries, like Tanzania and Mozambique, ended in a complete failure. And they leave plenty of room for suspition that behind such plans there are interests to control a population, which, in the case of Northern Uganda, has voted for the opposition.

 

Any honest attempts to help people enjoy a decent life in their original land are most welcome and will always have the support of the Church, but any other plans of “decongestion” fall short of uplifting human dignity. Better to nip such inititives in the bud before we may have to regret them in the future.

 

 

 

Northern Uganda – South Sudan Cross Boarder Peace building

(By Lam Oryem Cosmas)

 

Cross border (Northern Uganda – South Sudan) consultative peace building workshops organized by religious and cultural leaders have been held five times, in 2001, 2003, 2004 and two; one in Nimule South Sudan and the second in Gulu by cultural leaders in December 2005. The first three consultations were organized and coordinated by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI). In the first week of September 2005, the Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Gulu and its Diocese of Torit counter part organized and coordinated the first of such meeting for cultural, religious and civil society leaders held in Nimule, South Sudan. “Nyimule” is a corrupted Madi word meaning You are going there)! These consultative workshops involved religious, cultural, civil society and local council leaders from Acholiland, Lango, Teso and West Nile.

 

In December last year, Ker Kwaro Acholi (Acholi Traditional Institution organized a meeting in Gulu with cultural leaders from communities in South Sudan affected by the atrocities of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). These include the Madi, Acholi, Bari, Lokoya and Lokoro among others.

 

As a way of consolidating these interactions and having been exposed to the content and implementation mechanism of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Justice & Peace Commission of the Ecclesiastical Province of Gulu, what our Archbishop refers to as “GANAL” – Gulu Archdiocese, Nebbi, Arua & Lira dioceses in conjunction with Ker Kwaro Acholi undertook to have two people travel to south Sudan, with the goal of deepening understanding of their situation, especially in relation to the menace of the LRA. The objectives of the visit were fourfold;

 

 

I traveled to Juba-Yei-Torit between March 7 – 23, 2006 and met with several stakeholders through the respective religious leaders; Archdiocese of Juba, Dioceses of Yei and Torit. These areas represented the three States in Equatoria Province; Bar el Jabel (Central Equatoria State) - Juba, Western Equatoria – Yei and Eastern Equatoria – Torit. Juba is also the capital of the semi-autonomous Government of South Sudan (GOSS). It is here that the body of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), first Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and President of South Sudan, Dr. John Garang de Mabior was laid to rest. There are ten States in South Sudan; Northern Bahrel Ghazal, Western Bahrel Ghazal, Warab, Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Lakes, Western Equatoria, Bahrel Jabel (Central Equatoria) and Eastern Equatoria. Accordingly to the CPA, after a six year interim period which began in January 2005 after it’s signing in Nairobi, Kenya, these States will decide in a referendum, whether to remain as one Sudan or become a separate country of South Sudan. With the current interim period, the government is call, Government of National Unity of which SPLM is a part.

 

Of the three places I visited, I was stuck most by Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria and the headquarter of the diocese. I was told that it was in Torit that the first bullet was fired 18th August 1955 and the last that officially ended the SPLM/A war on 21st September 2002 as part of the cease fire agreement during talks that lead to the signing of CPA. Torit was a disputed town for so long; at one time it was in the hands of Government forces, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) at another in the hands of the SPLA, thus the great suffering of the population. The Diocese of Torit (DOT) therefore, operated from exile in Nairobi and Uganda. The diocesan properties were destroyed to the ground as you can see of what remained of the residence of Bishop Emeritus, Paride Taban. Only those parishes under the SPLA liberated territories such as Nimule, Isoke, Chukudum and Narus were functional. Bishop Taban has now founded a “peace village” in Kodam, in Toposaland where different people could live and share together.

 

Meanwhile, the Diocesan Administrator Bishop Johnson Akio Mutek, who has been operating from Ikotos is now preparing to return to Torit. A team of five priests have been sent to prepare for this return to a place with no physical church – but the people of God, the real ecclesia.

 

Like in northern Uganda, the LRA is seen as a threat to the implementation of CPA and the overall security of South Sudan, now that they crossed the Nile to the west which was hitherto not affected. This movement of the LRA westwards has further complicated the dynamics in the search for a solution. On the other hand, “cing malo” to 102 Mega FM, which is the most listened to radio in the areas of Torit and Ikotos. So, the message is reaching and people are also enjoying gift and consolation of our young talented musicians from Acholiland giving hope that - lotowa pe wu par, can man bitum – meaning our people, don’t you worry this night mare will end.

 

 

People live hand-to-mouth in the north

 

Seventy percent of the population in the war-affected northern Uganda live in absolute poverty, with each adult’s consumption expenditure at about Ush.20,000 (US $11) per month, according to a survey released early this month.

 

A government study of the living conditions and social welfare of people living in northern Uganda, many of whom have been displaced by civil conflict, revealed a dire humanitarian situation in the region. Dwellings are substandard, and most of the population live on less than $1 a day.

 

Christopher Laker, Executive Director of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund told IRIN that the survey analysed the state of education, health, labour, housing and household expenditure, vulnerability, welfare and community characteristics.

 

Its findings will be used to guide a Peace, Recovery and development plan (PRDP), a new initiative by the United nations, the World bank and the Uganda government to address the economic and social disparities between the north and the rest of the country.

 

“The statistics are going to form a good pillar for building up the new and existing programmes,” Laker said.

Northern Uganda has been the scene of one of the most brutal civil wars, pitting the government against the rebels Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which has held the Acholi sub-region in a strangledhold for almost 20 years.

The LRA is best known for abducting young children to serve as fighters, porters or sex slaves to rebel commanders. According to releif agencies, as many as 25000 children have been abducted. Up to 2 million people have been displaced from their homes by the civil conflict.

 

Some 1.6 million people live in scattered camps for internally displaced persons, prevented by insecurity from cultivating their fields or engaging in any economic activities.

 

People live hand-to-mouth in the north. Half the working-age population, especially in Acholi, is a redundant labour force, as there are no job opportunitites in the camps. The survey found that food, alcohol and tobacco consumed about 70 percent of household income.

Other expenditures included 11 percent for rent, fuel and power, 7.6 percent for health; 4.4 percent for transport, according to this report. Only 0.8 percent of household income went towards education. It also indicated that Acholi region of more than seven million people had one of the lowest literacy levels in Uganda.

 

“Literacy rate in the region stands at 54 percent compared to the national average of 68 percent,” the survey revealed. Fourteen percent of people between six and 25 years of age had not been formally educated.

 

Sanitation is still precarious, according to the report, with 33 percent of household s having no toilets. “In Karamoja sub-region, 88 perecnt of the households still use the ‘bush’ as a toilet facility,” the report observed.

 

 

Elections, Umeme, Water and Karimojong

Richard Kidega

 

It's now one quarter off the year 2006, and the much-anticipated general elections, which we thought would witness a change of guard, have passed.

 

The expected change never materialised to the chagrin of many a voter who had thought the doors of their misery would be unlocked. Many Internally Displaced Pesons thought if another person became the President, they would also leave the camps immediately to their original home.

 

 We on the other hand were threatened with the 'punishment of going without one of our own' in the next cabinet (according Minister Bakoko Bakoru) and poor or no delivery of services in the next five years. Somebody with a devine claim even went ahead to say that God is set to punish us for failing to identify with His anointed leader (really?). We wonder who passed on this communication to him.

 

We were hoping to get out of the camps. Preparations were being made for a return home. We cleared our compounds and started rethatching our huts. We were only waiting for the official go-ahead. But when LRA abductions began to soar, we held back.

 

We consoled ourselves that abductions would cease after elections irrespective of the winner given the assurances of maximum security in all the manifestos we saw and from the National, Non-Partisan Army.

 

As we stayed back in the camps, just before the elections, as President Museveni came to campaign in the north, fires also incidentally broke out simultaneously in all the camps in Kitgum, Pader and parts of Gulu. All our rag-tag belongings were lost in the fires.

 

The biggest camp in Kitgum, Padibe, which is home to over 40,000 IDPs caught fire the day Museveni was set to address them. The President missed witnessing the calamity first hand as hundreds of huts blazed in the scorching sun.

 

Humanitarian organisations rushed there to access the damage and give non-food aid to those affected. Their initial assessment on the first day was about 500 huts. The following day when they came back with just about that number of tents for distribution, they found the number had nearly quadrupled overnight. They simply waited for all the huts to burn down before distributing the tents.

Just when we were recovering from that trauma, our water pumps gave way. The water table was said to be very low due to the continued dry spell.

 

Our women lined up for over five hours to secure just one jerrican, yet the hot weather meant more water intake. In some places you would not be surprised to find people lining up at water points in their hundreds as early as 5:00am. The town itself was the worst hit.

 

Electricity also followed suit. Just a day before the Prsidential elections, we plunged into darkness. At first we thought it was Umeme's extreme power rationing, but after weeks of uninterrupted darkness, we sought an explanation from the power company.

 

 

They informed us that the rain that blessed our presidential and parliamentary elections felled seven poles in Acholibur, Pader district. They assured us that they were doing all their best to put the poles back. We were very amused to learn that Umeme was efficient enough to plant five poles in eight days! They were never the less determined to send us their bills asking for money for supplying to us darkness.

 

As if in a competition, the town water supply dried out completely, leaving thousands of people to queue at rusty boreholes each day. All the blame was heaped on Umeme for failing to supply electricity for running the pumps.

 

Our one and only Stanbic Bank also did not want to be outdone. As if they do not understand the meaning of growth, they have continued to register an increase in the number of their customers, but have done almost nothing to accommodate the upsurge. We still have one ATM machine to be shared by the thousands who throng the bank to access their money.

 

 When salaries are credited to our accounts, we line up sometimes for two whole days without accessing money. Our brothers in uniform, who are deployed in various remote areas, usually come en bloc to get money.

 

For a whole week they camp at the bank till they get their money. When you pass by on a typical busy day, you might think the Brigade Headquarters has been shifted to the bank.

 

In the midst of this, the Karimojong herdsmen in search of grass, water and more cattle stormed, carting away our little stocks and few kilos of grains proffered to us by humanitarian aid agencies. They are not forgetting to show us their love for our women. They abduct and rape them with impunity.

 

Can they not depart from their warrior mentality and just propose to these women? Am sure with their countless heads of cattle, they would out-compete us. But once a dog, always a dog. We are only comforted to learn that our frontier guards are engaging them.

 

The Army as well has not forgotten us. Just one day after the declaration of the results of the presidential elections, they began giving us daily treats of servitude on our roads. Whenever we travel, we are intercepted at roadblocks and ordered out to perform what they call 'compulsory national duty'.

 

We slash over seven meters of grass before resuming our journey. Sad though is the fact that there are no tools for doing the work. Even sadder is that if one comes across four roadblocks on his or her journey, one will have to slash as many times. I wonder whether Ministry of works still get budget allocations.

 

 

When this practise was questioned by CSO's operating here, we were told that it was a resolution of our Local Councils; that they are only acting as implementing partners.

 

The Councillors flatly denied ever debating such a policy. But one tough guy manning one of the road blocks reminded us that politicians are congenital liars who will not admit their acts even if they are caught red-handed. We don't know who is fooling who here.

Are all these going to sully us through out 2006 or beyond?

 

 

Does Uganda need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

 

In January this year Gulu Archdiocese organised a peace prayer in Adjumani, Arua. During the two days prayers in which concurrent workshops were held for veterents, youth, women and elders, participants resolved unanimously that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) be set up, first, for the people of the Archdiocese and Uganda generally. The participants mandated the Archbishop John Baptist Odama to advocate on their behalf for the formation of this TRC.

 

Subsequently, Gulu district NGO forum organised a workshop in March this year that among other things is to find out the possibility of a TRC for Uganda. Experts were drawn from diverse background including University Dons, lawyers some officials from the International criminal Court (ICC).

 

Among the personalities was James Ojera Latigo, a researcher at the Afrika Study centre and student of the Marcus Gurvey Pan-African Institute who unvailed the essential ingredients of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a viable option for addressing a legacy of past abuses in order to move forward.

 

He spelt out what is essential for a TRC to work, its minimum legitimate requirements, limitations, some realistic goals that can be achieved, and its delicate balance. Hopefully, after reading this rich idea from James Ojera Latigo, it will help you to make informed decisions on the road to go.

 

As the political transition unfolds, often after a period of violence and repression, a society is confronted with a difficult legacy of human rights abuses. Countries struggle to come to terms with crime of the past. In order to promote justice, peace and reconciliation, considerations are likely to be made on both judicial and non- judicial responses to human rights crimes.

 

According ot Ojera, the following approaches are used depending on the  situation in order to achieve a more comprehensive and far-reaching sense of justice:

Prosecuting individual,perpetrators; Establishing truth-seeking initiatives to address past abuses; Providing reparations to victims of         human rights violations; Reforming institutions like the police and court; Facilitating reconciliation processes in divided communities; And sometimes the hard option is doing nothing-you prefer to forget it and move on.

 

The choice of action according to Ojera is counterbalanced by a pragmatic imperative to seize and maximise the emarging chance for peace and reconciliation.

 

In this context, Ojera said a TRC can facilitate a measure of accountability and truth-telling from perpetrators, while providing some form of reparations for the victims of conflict. It can further lay the foundation for the rule of law in emerging democracy, wihtin which a culture of human rights is cultivated and given legislative priority and establishes a historic record of crimes, thus allowing society to learn from its past. He said this has the following advantages:

Preventing repetition of violence in future; Serves as a sort of “historical group therapy session” for the entire country; Facilitates national reconciliation; Fosters individual rehabilitation; Imparts a sense of dignity and empowerment to move beyond the pain of the past; Promotes justice by imposing moral condemnation and laying frame work for victims

Compensation and other sanctions; And offers specific recommendation for reform.

 

Ojera emphasised that a TRC should, however not be thought of as an alternative to prosecutions, but as an complement. It need not, and should not, circumvent international human rights law or subvert

 

the demands of international criminal law; in fact, it can and should be consistent with international criminal law.

But he added that other initiatives or bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Tribunal (e.g. Rwanda & Yugoslavia), Special Courts (in our case the hydra-headed Military Court Martial), or even an “efficient” National Court System like the Uganda Judiciary System which are at times defiled, are all limited in number of people they can effectively prosecute. Prosecutors regularly exercise prudence in determining where to allocate limited prosecutorial resources. Moreover courts are not designed to address underlying causes, motives and perspectives of perpetrators or the role of institutions in the violation of human rights.

 

TRCs, on the other hand, are designed to address both these problems. They demand fewer resources than the courts and, if designed properly, can provide some accountability. They are also ideally suited for exploring historical, systematic, institutional and personal causes and motives for gross violations of human rights.

 

What is essential for a TRC to work?

 

The following factors need to be taken into account for a TRC to be effective:-

1.       Has to be victim centred;

2.       Choice of members of the

          Commission based on integrity;

3.       Political will - the right           

          Legislation/power          conferred;

4.       Popular consent of the majority;

5.       Timing;

6.       Resources;

7.       Skills - adequate technical skills;

8.       Across the board representation;

9.      Media exposure - transparency that inspires confidence and facilitates     debates;

10.Amnesty in exchange for truth.

 

Minimum requirements for a TRC to approach legitimacy

 

TRCs are proposed for different reasons and driven by diverse motives. They can be used to avoid accountability or persecution, often motivated by a regime responsible for gross violations of human rights. In turn, TRCs can only be used to deal with certain crimes, either with or without investigation or disclosure of the criminal activity involved. This opens the wya for other, possibly more serious crimes, to be tried in court, or on the other hand, simply ignored. To merit legitimacy, a TRC needs at a minimum to incorporate the following:

Convincing evidence that the majority of citizens endorse the TRC as a mechanism of transitional justice; The disclosure of as much truth as possible concerning gross violations of human rights; Accountability of those responsible for gross violations of human rights, recognising that this need not be inform of retributiive sentencing by the state;

Reparation of those victims whose rights are encroached upon by any amnesty provision; the suspension of prosecution in a transitionary situation should not be a      pretext for the abrogation of other requirements of international law; A forum in which victims and survivors may tell their stories and question perpetrators.

 

In addition to satisfying above minimum criteria for legitimacy, a TRC should also be created and operated transparently in order to sustain democratic legitimacy. Citizen involvement in the creation of a TRC, and openness to media coverage of its operations, are necessary to ensure democratic legitimacy.

 

 

Realistic goals for a TRC

 

Specifically, TRCs can:

Break the silence on past violations of human rights;

Counter the denial of such violations         and thus provide official

Acknowledgement of the nature and          extent of human suffering;

Provide a basis for the emergence of          a common memory that takes into account a multitude of diverse       experiences;

 

Help create a culture of accountability; provide a safe space within which victims can engage their feelings and emotions through the telling of personal stories without the evidentiary and procedural restrains of   the courtroom; Bring communities, institutions and system under moral scrutiny; Contribute to uncovering the causes, motives and perspectives of the past atrocities; Provide important symbolic forms of memoralization and reparation; Initiate and support a process of reconciliation, recognising that it will    take time and political will to realize; Provide a public space within which to address the issues that thrust the country into conflict, while promoting restorative justice and social reconstruction.

 

Tight rope to follow:

 

A TRC process must necessarily promote the beneficience of victims and survivors, as well as ensure that perpetrators are drawn into the restorative process that this requires.

 

These requirement place a premium on reaching agreement over a viable package f reparations, a restoration that seeks to build human dignity and promote the material well-being of victims of abuse.

 

At the same time, a TRC needs to promote the participation of victims in the emerging new regime: Politically, economically, culturally and spiritually. This necessarily involves more than a one-off monetary payment to victims.

 

 It requires the transformation of the ethos that sustained the unjust state prior to transition. Effective reparations require sustainable peace, economic growth and political stability.

 

The debate for and against Truth Commissions continues with emerging dichotomies, e.g. not all victims of gross violations of human rights desire prosecutions, while the precise nature of reparation sought may not always be clear.

 

The casual relationships between amnesties, social stability and the rule of law are also unclear.

 

It is difficult to say whether protection from prosecution for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights facilitates long-term social stability and the rule of law are also unclear.

 

 It is difficult to say whether protection from prosecutions will not resurface to undermine the desired stability.

 

Ojara said TRCs certainly raise legal and moral questions that have no easy answers, but are concurrently an evermore popular instrument of transitional justice. The demands of international law constitute and important foil against any TRC needs to be negotiated.

 

Ojara cautioned that the decisions whether to establish a TRC need also be calculated on the basis of political cost and benefit.

 

It is here that the tension between the international human rights law and a possible TRC is freequently located.

 

A TRC can contribute to tolarance, reconciliation and nation-building. It can also polarize, embitter and do little more than suspend the confrontation it seeks to avoid.

 

This is why the structure of each new commission needs to be considered carefully while seeking to meet the demands of international law, broadening participation, considering appropriate timing, maximizing transparency and political independency, and protecting the integrity and participation of those involved in the process.

 

Evidently Uganda has seen its fair share of wars and many manners of human rights abuses and mass killings ranging from Kanungu to Luwero to Mbachi to Kichwamba to Mukura to Bucoro to Anaka to Namukora to barlonyo, name it. The cancer is already planted and steadfastly spread in seemingly unstoppable fashion.

 

“Can we keep hope alive therefore?” “I dare say yes!” Ojera asked, and said, the time is ripe for Uganda now to dislodge the cancer of conflict that has bedeviled our society by invoking the painful momeries of the past and thus firmly putting it behind us in order to forge a new dispensation, build the new foundation of consensus, Truth and genuine democracy.

 

 

Peace prayer gave birth to Madi Elders Forum

 

One of the many advantages of the provincial Peace Prayers held in Adjumani district has been the birth of Adjumani Elders Forum.

The Madi saw how organized the elders of Acholi and Langi were and borrowed the example from them.  They had no organization that could bring all elders

together.

 

The prayer with the theme, 'In truth, Peace' was organized among other things to provide space for interaction for the people of the province; Lango, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions as well as adjacent southern Sudan.  The three sub-regions send their representatives that included women; youth, elders and veterans to Adjumani in Arua diocese were the peace prayer took place. All the groups held discussions, which led to general agreement that Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be initiated for the sub-region and Uganda in general.

 

But most important is the beginning of the Madi Elders Forum which came as the result of the interactions between the elders of Acholi, Langi, Alur and madi during the one day workshop.

 

According to the in charge of the Justice and Peace Commission Adjumani Vicariate, Angela Kaba, it was a challenge to Madi elders because they did not have a united voice during the workshop debate unlike their counter parts from Acholi and Lango.

 

The Madi realized their their counterparts have been very instrumental in conflict management at the grass root and other levels. They therefore form their forum so that they copy the example of the Acholi and Langi elders to bring peace and stability in theirt sub-region.

 

“For example, we realized that Madi elders have not been very active in solving issues related to land dispute, domestic violence and other social problems,” Angela Kaba said.

 

Currently, there is a committee of twenty five people drawn from different parts of the district and working in collaboration with interfaith organisation being led by Justice and Peace Commission of Adjumani.

 

Angela Kaba said Madi elders of recent years have not been actively involved in the development activities of their areas because they had a leadership vacuum.

 

It was long ago when Madi had clan leaders. An elder supervised each clan. Traditional chiefs were purposely for rainmaking. They existed during pre- and colonial era. When they local council system was introduced, the Madi adopted it and their traditional leadership hierarchy was lost.

 

As a result of interaction with Langi and Acholi elders, the Madi realised elders and not local councils can best deal with dispute, like that of land. This is because the elders have been there overtime to know land demarcations.

 

Angela Kaba said Adjumani district is in support of the elders’ forum that was born two months ago after decades of years. The elders plan to network with the district council to sensitise the Madi about the forum so that it is accepted by all people.

 

Angela Kaba however said although JPC has members at Parish and Chapel levels since 2002, they are domant. There is lack of fund to run it effectively.

JPC Adjumani is also facing a lot of challenges from people including the religious leaders because very few yet understand the concept.

Angela Kaba therefore urges people of goodwill to sponsor their activities so that they embark on sensitisation and peace building work in the area.

Janes Oweka

 

 

Arua JPC trains camp commanders

 

From the beginning of this year, Arua Justice and Peace Commission has done a lot of activities among them training of camp commandants and ex-combatants.

 

The first training was in January where Camp Commandants and Community Development Officers were trained in conflict resolution. They were drawn from refugee settlement areas of the district.

 

The areas included displacement camps of Ekafe, Imvipi, Okolo, Rhino camp and the sub-counties of Odravu and Origbo among others.

 

The training was organised to improve the skills of camp commandants Community Development Officers (CDOs) and assistant CDOs in handling conflict professionally in refugee settlement areas.

 

In those camps, the refugees and local people had dispute over land. Even the local government authority had complained against the refugees over health centre land and about environmental degradation because of trees’ cutting by the settlers.

 

The training was to equipt them with skills to help them solve problems and clashes that existed between them. These are refugees from Southern Sudan. Over athousand of them are in Yumbe and Arua districts.

 

They were displaced by the Sudan government-SPLA war and have now stayed for over ten years in the areas. Other refugees were transfered from the refugee camps in Masindi early last years to Okolo after they had a strike in Bweyale settlement camp.

 

According to the in charge of JPC Arua Br. Erminio Drakare, the training was in partnership Food Nutrition and Security (FNS-GOPA). Twenty five participants were trained.

 

The topics covered included Conflict transformation (Mediation, Negotiation and reconciliation), Human Rights, Rfugee and Diasater Management and Psychosocial training.

 

Br. Drakare said the refugees have different levels of emotion because some lost their relatives and friends which make them behave differently. “Some are traumatised and it had become difficult to handle by the local people,” Drakare said.

 

Justice and Peace Commission also had training in Peace Building and Reintegration of former combatants. The former combatants included those who were from WNBF, UNRF, UPDF, UA and LRA.

 

The districts of Moyo and Adjumani sent 45 participants each. The training was meant to integrate the former combatants into the community so that they live a normal life in the community.

 

Drakare said the community somtimes treat the former abductees with suspicion and they also sometimes not willing to live together with the community.

James Oweka

 

 

CHRONOLOGY OF RECENT EVENTS April 2006

 

MARCH 2006

1st - ICC officials in The Hague said cells for Kony and other LRA top leaders were ready.

 

3rd - LRA attacked villages between Yei and Juba, killing and abducting dozens.

 

7th -Museveni said plans for resettlement of IDPs in the North would begin in May, from Teso and Lango.

 

12th - A woman was killed and a UPDF major injured when their vehicle fell in an ambush on the Gulu-Patiko road.

 

14th - UPDF said Kony had joined Ottii in the Garamba National Park in the DRC.

 - Rebels attacked Kitgum Matidi camp. They looted properties but no abductions were reported.

 - Karimojong abducted a 15-year-old boy named Oyoo Innocent from Omiya Anyima Camp. He was later killed on 16/3/06 at Longor in Paimol Sub-county, Pader district

 

15th - Top UN official for Internally Displaced Person Dennis McNamara visited Kitgum and said that Northern Uganda was in a "human rights crisis".

 

17/3/06 - Karimojong herdsmen raided cattle at Agoro, north of Kitgum. No body was able to establish the exact number immediately.

17/3/06 - Karimojong herdsmen raided Orom, taking away unspecified number of cattle and goats

 

18/3/2006 - six children grazing their animals were abducted from Namirembe, Lamola. One child came back and five are still missing. 

 - In an IGAD meeting Museveni declared that if the LRA attacked Uganda again they would pursue them into the DRC "with or without permission".

 

19th - MONUC handed over a captured LRA captain to the UPDF in Congo

 

20th - A conference on Northern Uganda was celebrated under the auspices of UN in Geneva, attended by Government high officials and donor countries.

 

21st - UPDF repelled an LRA attack on Pader IDP camp. An 8-year old girl was injured during the shootout.

 

24/3/06 - Two girls aged 14 and 15 were abducted from Akubi Parish, Omiya Anyima camp by LRA rebels

 

28th - Two men from Lalogi IDP camp who had gone digging were abducted and killed, presumably by rebels.

 

29th - An LRA captain, Francis Ocaya, surrendered to the UPDF at Lacekocot. Four hunters were killed by rebels near Atyak.

 

30th - Jan Egeland started a visit to Uganda.

Government said that it had formed a Joint Country Coordination and Monitoring Comiittee for recovery in Northern Uganda, with a multi-million dollar plan for recovery.

- CSOPNU presented a report saying that the rate of violent deaths in Northern Uganda is three times higher than in Irak.

 

31st - Army said they had killed 13 rebels in some skirmishes in Acholi in recent days.

 

APRIL 2006

1st - UN under-secretary Jan Egeland visited Patongo IDP, in Pader, and said that the situation was "intolerable" and that the LRA was "using terrorism of the worst kind and must be halted". He called for a regional approach and for a solution not exclusively military.

- Three children were abducted near Alero IDP by rebels. The UPDF intercepted them and during the battle that followed one of the children was shot dead, while the other two were seriously injured.

 

 - Four people (two men and two women) were abducted from Melong Parish, Omiya Anymia sub-county by Karimojong herdsmen, said to be moving in large numbers of up to 70. The women were released a day later. The men are still missing.

 

2nd - Six women were abducted by LRA rebels from Paibwor, about five kilometers from Kitgum Town. The same group of rebels came back to loot Parabongo in the evening. Four women were rescued but two are still missing.

 

- Armed Karimojong warriors numbering about 7 were reported carrying out surveillance at Kitgum Matidi camp. They ran away after a brief encounter with the local militia.

- Museveni rejected the idea of a UN special envoy for Northern Uganda.

 

3rd - Suspected LRA rebels estimated to be numbering over 200 were reported to have crossed into Uganda from the Sudan via Lokung, Lamwo County in northern Kitgum. They are said to have split into smaller groups of between 20 and 35 and scattered into different directions. Some groups are said to be hiding in Palabek and others in Atiak in Gulu district. There is no official confirmation from the Army authorities.

7th- According to a woman who escaped from the LRA, there was a group of 30 LRA  present in Lamola village, Amida Sub County Kitgum district. The UPDF pursued them and made contact in Alwii in Acholi bur Sub County, Pader district during the evening hours. 

 

- Reports of two UPDF attack helicopters shelling suspected LRA positions east of Palaro in Patiko Sub County,Gulu district. - Two people were abducted from Layibi aywee village in Gulu Municipality, they both returned the next day.

 

8th - One civilian reported killed by unknown assailants in oryiang village, in Kitgum town. - A group of LRA abducted five people from Loyo boo village in Paicho Sub County, Gulu district. - A group of LRA reportedly spent the night in Pageya village, paicho sub County in close proximity to the Pageya to Bar olam road.

- A 15 years old boy who had gone to collect mangoes from Dure in Acholi bur Sub County in Pader district went missing in the evening hours on his way back from Dure. His bicycle

was found chopped up in Oyuru village, Amida Sub County in Kitgum district.

 

9th- A group of LRA abducted two women and a girl who had gone to collect mango from Opete village in Amida Sub County, Kitgum district. - A group of women who left Amida IDP to collect fire wood from Lamola village had not returned by the morning of

the 10th April 2006.

 

 - One civilian reported killed in Te-got Atoo village in Paicho Sub County, Gulu district.

 

- UPDF had a confrontation with LRA in Goma hills, 3 LRA were killed, 2 wounded the report indicated. -A UPDF foot patrol was ambushed by LRA near River Ajan between Atanga and Okinga in Atanga Sub County. One UPDF was reportedly killed. No confirmation yet.

 

10th - A boy was abducted while cultivating a

cassava garden in Amida Sub County in Kitgum district at 1100 hrs.

 

 

Some of our activities of the month

 

Our staff from Kalongo office in Pader district district were

involved in community peace building in partnership with Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF).

 

JPC staff from Kitgum organised a charity car-wash activity to raise money for prisoners especially mothers. They plan to buy blankets, soap, pads etc for the prisoners. Twelve paralegals from Kitgum had a refresher cause in the basic of law.

 

JPC head office paid 123 children in nursery, primary, tertiary and secondary school. Most of these are former abducted children,

children born when their mothers were in captivity and child mothers .

Our Consultant, Cosmas Lam Oryem participated in a cross border- Southern Sudan - Northen Uganda peace building which began in March 7th to 23rd 2006.

He met with several stakeholders through the respective religious leaders in the Archdiocese of Juba, Diocese of Torit and yei.

 

There will be a Provincial meeting in Nebbi diocese in May from the 2nd to 5th.

 

 

Faiths Devise tactics to Combat HIV/AIDS

 

African religious leaders have developed a new strategy they say is more comprehensive for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

It is called SAVE: Safer practices, Available medications, Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and Empowerment through education.

 

The strategy was developed by the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA).

 

SAVE is meant to replace ABC (Abstain; Be faithful; and use Condoms), which is said to be ineffective and promotes stigma and discrimination.

 

"Some of the messages given to mitigate the spread of HIV have had the unfortunate consequence of adding to the stigma surrounding it; ABC is one such message," said Christian Aid, an international relief agency that works with ANERELA.

 

Christian Aid, a relief agency of churches in the United Kingdom and Ireland, has discarded ABC in favour of SAVE.

 

ABC, the agency said, has been presented as: abstain; if you can't abstain, then be faithful; and if you can't be faithful, then use a condom.

 

"According to these definitions, the use of a condom automatically puts a person in the category of one who can not be faithful or does not want to abstain. This fuels stigma and precludes safer sexual practices."

 

ABC is also not well suited to the complexities of human life. "If you or your partner have been tested positive for HIV and still have unprotected sexual intercourse, then this puts the other person at risk of HIV infection," Christian Aid said.

 

SAVE combines prevention and care as well as providing messages to counter stigma.

 

‘S’ refers to safer practices covering all the different modes of HIV transmission, such as safe blood for blood transfusion; barrier methods for penetrative sexual intercourse; sterile needles and syringes for injecting; safer methods for scarification; and adoption of universal medical precautions.

‘A’ refers to available medications, such as Antiretroviral (ARV) therapy and treatment of opportunistic infections to prolong life of victims.

 

‘V’ refers to voluntary counselling and testing. Individuals who know their HIV status are in a better position to protect themselves from infection; and if they are HIV-positive, from infecting another.

 

‘E’ refers to empowerment through education. Inaccurate information and ignorance are two of the greatest factors driving HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

 

"HIV is a virus, not a moral issue. The response to HIV should therefore be based on public health measures and human rights principles," Christian Aid said.

James Oweka

 

 

Access to Safe Water a Human Right - Holy See

 

Access to safe water is a human right, Pope Benedick XVI has said.

 

“Defining access to safe water as a human right is an important step in making access a reality in the lives of many people living in poverty” he added.

 

"Water is much more than just a basic human need," the Holy See said. "It is an essential, irreplaceable element to ensuring the continuance of life. Water is intrinsically linked to fundamental human rights such as the right to life, to food and to health."

 

In a document he distributed at the 4th World Water Forum that ended in Mexico City in March, Pope Benedick XVI also described water as a strategic factor for the establishment and maintenance of world peace.

 

"Water is a dimension of what is referred to today as resource security," the document said. "Conflicts have already occurred for control over water resources and others may come center stage the more water scarcity manifests its consequences on the lives of human beings and their communities." It cited two examples: the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

 

The World Water Day was marked on Wednesday, March 22, with calls from the United Nations for more equitable distribution and efficient use of the resource.

 

Some 6,000 people, mostly children, die every day from dirty water.

In Gulu district, safe water coverage is 52.4%. The worst hit areas are the camps for the displaced persons all overa Acholi sub-region. Women and Children have to line for long hours before geting water.

"Let us recognize the cultural, environmental and economic importance of clean water, and strengthen our efforts to protect rivers, lakes and aquifers," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message.

 

"We need to distribute water more equitably, and increase the efficiency of water use, especially in agriculture. Let us mount a sustained effort - among international bodies, Governments and local communities, and across traditions and cultures - that will reach our goals."

 

Ends…