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Uganda: The Costs of War

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Apr 20, 2006 (060420)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"Since 1986 northern Uganda has been trapped in a deadly cycle of violence and suffering. After 20 years the war shows no real signs of abating, and every day it goes on it exacts a greater toll from the women, men, and children affected by the crisis. ... The Lord's Resistance Army, the Government of Uganda, and the international community must act ... without delay ... to secure a just and lasting peace." - Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the summary, recommendations, and an additional excerpt from a new report from Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU), as well as a press release on the report from Oxfam International, one of the international member organizations of CSOPNU.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Uganda and related background links, see http://www.africafocus.org/country/uganda.php.

For AfricaFocus Bulletins on issues of peace and conflict around the continent see http://www.africafocus.org/peaceexp.php.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Counting the cost

Twenty years of war in northern Uganda

CSOPNU (Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda)

March 2006

CSOPNU is a coalition of more than 50 Ugandan and international non-governmental organisations working with women, men and children affected by the northern conflict.

CSOPNU believes that the needs and rights of people affected by the conflict must be central to the debate about northern Uganda.

[Distributed by Oxfam International
http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/briefingnotes/report_CSOPNU_nuganda_060330

Full report in pdf format is also available at
http://allafrica.com/peaceafrica/resources/00010777.html]

Since 1986 northern Uganda has been trapped in a deadly cycle of violence and suffering. After 20 years the war shows no real signs of abating, and every day it goes on it exacts a greater toll from the women, men, and children affected by the crisis. The time has come for all parties involved to act decisively. The LRA, the Government of Uganda, and the international community must acknowledge the true scale and horror of the situation and act resolutely and without delay, both to guarantee the effective protection of civilians in the region and to secure a just and lasting peace.

Summary

Northern Uganda is trapped in a deadly cycle of violence and suffering. After 20 years the war shows no signs of abating, and each passing day takes a greater toll on the women, men, and children affected by the crisis.

Each month more than 3,500 people die from easily preventable diseases, extreme violence and torture. Hundreds of children are abducted and abused, or killed in battle. Nearly two million people are forced to live in squalid and life-threatening conditions, dependent upon relief and denied access to incomes and education. Millions of dollars are squandered in wasted productivity and in the pursuit of a military 'solution'.

It is a situation that has produced a humanitarian catastrophe of dreadful proportions.

But this is a catastrophe that is fuelled not only by terrible acts of war and violence. It is also fuelled by a shameful litany of failure - the continuing failure of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to cease its brutal campaign of violence against civilians, and of both the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the international community to uphold their legal obligations to secure the protection, security, and peace for the civilians of northern Uganda.

After 20 years, the time has come for all parties involved to act decisively. It is time for the LRA, the GoU, and the international community to fully acknowledge the true scale and horror of the situation in northern Uganda, and to act resolutely and without delay, both to guarantee the effective protection of civilians and to secure a just and lasting peace.

Recommendations

The Lord's Resistance Army

The LRA must immediately cease attacks on, and abductions of, civilians and aid workers.

  • It must show a clear commitment to resolving the conflict peacefully via negotiation.
  • It should clearly declare its peace team and articulate its demands so that they are known and can be addressed.

The Government of Uganda

The GoU must make the protection of civilians its first priority and take immediate, concrete action to guarantee the protection of its citizens.

  • It must prioritise the protection of civilians over the annihilation of the LRA, and shift its focus from military confrontation to building an environment of security for civilians.
  • It must ensure the adequate deployment of UPDF troops in northern Uganda - particularly for the defence of IDP camps, the security of major access roads, and the protection of humanitarian organisations.
  • It must drastically increase its commitment to upholding international humanitarian law in northern Uganda.
  • It must give a clear signal that abuses perpetrated by the armed forces against civilians are intolerable. All instances of violence against civilians must be investigated and prosecuted to the highest extent of the law.

The GoU must also commit to resolving this conflict peacefully. Steps must be taken to establish an institutional mechanism through which dialogue can take place. Such a mechanism would enable talks to transcend individuals involved in the process. Adequate financial, political, and material support should be made available. Strength, determination, and resolve in the pursuit of a negotiated settlement are necessary, even in the face of setbacks.

The UN Security Council

The UN Security Council (UNSC) must act resolutely and without delay to guarantee the protection of civilians and those providing humanitarian assistance in northern Uganda. It should immediately adopt a resolution specifically addressing the conflict in northern Uganda. This resolution should express deep concern for the humanitarian emergency in the region and should also include the following key elements:

  • Call on the GoU to acknowledge the severity of the humanitarian crisis;
  • Express its conviction that the crisis in northern Uganda can only be ended via a process of political engagement, diplomacy, and peaceful negotiation, and call on all parties to declare an immediate ceasefire and pursue a peaceful and negotiated settlement.
  • Urge the GoU to fulfil its responsibility to protect all of its civilians by adopting a more appropriate security strategy, focusing on protection rather than on confrontation.
  • Establish a panel of experts to investigate and monitor the activities of the LRA, as well as networks supporting it, and their impact on regional peace and security.
  • Express its firm conviction that failure on the part of the GoU to provide adequate protection for civilians will require further decisive action by the international community, via the Security Council.

The Council must also commit to following-up quickly on Resolution 1653 and to taking a comprehensive approach to situation in the Great Lakes region including, critically, the conflict in northern Uganda.

UN Secretary General

The Secretary General must directly support the efforts of the UNSC and UN agencies to secure peace and the protection of civilians in northern Uganda.

  • He should appoint a special envoy for northern Uganda to support efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
  • He should act quickly to provide comprehensive recommendations to the Security Council pursuant to operative paragraph 14 of Resolution 1653, including concrete measures aimed at securing peace and protection for the people of northern Uganda consistent with the broader recommendations of this report.
  • If the Security Council fails to place this crisis on its agenda, he should exercise Article 99 of the UN Charter to force it to do so and to take the above actions.

International community

The international community must radically improve their commitment to the protection and relief of civilians in northern Uganda, and to the achievement of a just and lasting peace.

  • Governments must demonstrate this by applying co-ordinated and concerted diplomatic pressure upon the GoU to ensure that it focuses its resources on protection and on the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
  • They must also ensure that the UN Security Council and the African Union gives northern Uganda the attention it warrants.
  • The European Union must act on commitments made by the General Affairs and External Relations Council at the end of November 2005.
  • Donors must commit to fully funding the UN's consolidated appeal for Uganda.

Regional governments

Governments in the region should stand firm in their support for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

  • They must use their influence with the GoU to ensure that it makes the protection of civilians its first priority.
  • They must wholeheartedly support efforts to resolve this conflict peacefully, including full co-operation in relevant international processes, e.g. the International Criminal Court.
  • They must ensure that arms flows in the region are controlled, and that previous agreements made at the UN level are fully enforced.

They can do this through their involvement in regional bodies such as the African Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Tripartite Commission and the East African Community, or bilaterally.


Counting the Cost

Box 2: Northern Uganda: key facts

Internal displacement

  • Between 1.8 and 2 million people are internally displaced and living in camps (about 8 per cent of the national population).
  • Approximately 1.2 million of these people are internally displaced in the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader (representing 94 per cent of the local population).
  • In Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader an area the size of Belgium is now depopulated.
  • There are 202 IDP [internally displaced people) camps in northern Uganda, some with populations of over 60,000.
  • . Population density in some camps is as high as 1,700 people per hectare.
  • 50 per cent of IDPs are under the age of 15.

Mortality

  • Rates of violent death are three times higher than those reported in Iraq following the Allied invasion in 2003.
  • Crude mortality rates are more than three times higher than those recorded in Darfur in October 2005.
  • There are 901 excess deaths every week. This means 129 people die every day as a result of violence and conditions in camps.
  • Each day, 58 children under the age of five die as a result of violence and preventable diseases.

Abduction

  • More than 25,000 children have been abducted during the course of the war.
  • At time of increased insecurity up to 45,000 children 'nightcommute' each evening to avoid abduction by the LRA.

Education

  • 737 schools in northern Uganda (60 per cent of the total) are non-functioning because of the war.
  • 250,000 children in northern Uganda receive no education at all.

Humanitarian access

  • 80 per cent of the camps in Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader cannote be accessed without military escorts.

Economic costs

  • 95 per cent of IDPs in Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader live in absolute poverty.
  • Cost of the war to Uganda after 20 years: $1.7bn.
  • Cost of the war to Uganda annually over 20 years: $85 m.
  • The annual cost of the war is approximately equivalent to Uganda's total annual income from coffee exports.
  • The equivalent amount of money could provide clean, safe drinking water to 3.5 million people per year - or the total population of Liberia.


Rate of Death in Northern Uganda Is Three Times Higher Than in Iraq - New Report

Oxfam International
http://www.oxfam.org

March 30, 2006

The current rate of death from the war in northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq following the Allied invasion, finds a new report released today. The release of the report comes as the UN Under-Secretary General Jan Egeland holds high-level meetings in Kampala with the Ugandan government and other international representatives to address the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda.

The report by a coalition of over 50 leading non-governmental organisations, Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU), reveals new facts and figures showing the brutal impact of the conflict between the Government of Uganda and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army on the civilian population. The coalition includes Oxfam International, Care International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and International Rescue Committee as well as national and community based organisations.

Almost two million people have been displaced by the conflict. A staggering 25,000 children have been abducted during 20 years of war. One quarter of children in northern Uganda over ten years old have lost one or both parents.

The National Programme Coordinator, Uganda Child Rights NGO Network and Chairperson of CSOPNU, Stella Ayo-Odongo said: "Northern Uganda is one of the world's worst war zones. The violent death rate in northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq. It is tragedy of the worst proportions. This conflict cannot be allowed to fester any longer. A peaceful resolution of this conflict must be found."

The report, "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda" shows the devastating economic cost of the war estimated at US$1.7 billion (GBP œ1bn) over the course of the last two decades. This is equivalent to the USA's total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002 and is the double the UK's average annual bilateral gross public expenditure on aid to Uganda from 1994 to 2001. The average annual cost of the war to Uganda is US$85 million.

Kathy Relleen, Oxfam's Policy Advisor in Uganda, said that twenty years was enough: "The Ugandan Government, the rebel army and the international community must fully acknowledge the true scale and horror of the situation in northern Uganda", said Relleen. "Twenty years of brutal violence is a scar on the world's conscience. The government of Uganda must act resolutely and without delay, both to guarantee the effective protection of civilians and to work with all sides to secure a just and lasting peace."

Kevin Fitzcharles, Director, Care International said: "UN Under-Secretary General Egeland is clearly pushing the Security Council to act, yet none of his recommendations are being implemented. It is time for the Security Council to recognise that its failure to address this crisis is a scar on its record and undermines its credibility. The UN must act by passing a resolution urging the Government of Uganda to protect its own people."

CSOPNU is calling upon all parties involved to take up Jan Egeland's challenge and to act decisively. The coalition is urging the UN Security Council to adopt Egeland's recommendation to appoint a panel of experts to investigate the activities of the LRA. The appointment of a high level envoy to reinvigorate peace efforts, address all aspects of the crisis and report back to the UN Security Council on progress has also received widespread support though as yet no action has been taken.

Despite the scale of the crisis and its huge impact on the region, the Secretary General has not yet been publicly engaged. A recent meeting in Geneva offered hope for a comprehensive plan of action on the conflict but urgent action to make this plan a reality is needed. Benchmarks must be established to enable the Government of Uganda to show clear progress in monitoring peace, protecting the civilian population, and addressing the humanitarian crisis. Egeland's visit to Uganda raises hope for concrete action to address this devastating crisis.

Key figures from "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda":

Rates of violent death in northern Uganda are three times higher than those reported in Iraq following the Allied Invasion in 2003. (The violent death rate for northern Uganda is currently at 146 deaths per week, (0.17 violent deaths per 10,000 people per day). This is three times higher than in Iraq, where the incidence of violent death in the period following the allied invasion was estimated to be 0.052 per 10,000 people per day.

20 years of conflict have had a devastating impact on children.

25,000 children have been abducted during the course of the war. 41 per cent of all deaths in the camps are amongst children under 5. 250,000 children in northern Uganda receive no education, despite Uganda's policy of universal primary education. An estimated 1,000 children have been born in LRA captivity to girls abducted by the rebel army. At the times of heightened insecurity up to 45,000 children "night commute" each evening and sleep in streets or makeshift shelters in town centres to avoid being abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The World Food Programme (WFP) currently delivers food to 84% of all households that are dependent on food aid. Almost 50 per cent of children are stunted due to malnutrition in the Kitgum area.

The economic cost of the war to Uganda after 20 years is $1.7 billion (œ 1bn). This is the equivalent of: Double the UK's gross bilateral public expenditure on aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2001 OR the USA's total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002

The annual cost of the war to Uganda is $85 million. This is the equivalent of:

The cost of providing clean, safe drinking water to 3.5 million people per year, or the total population of Liberia Uganda's total annual income from coffee exports The entire budget of the World Bank's five-year Northern Uganda Social Action Fund


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org


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