VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
President Obama commits to a peaceful future for northern Uganda
May 25, 2010 by Kate Sands Adams
|Photo: Christopher Scott|
International Rescue Committee president George Rupp was at the White House yesterday with President Obama as he signed into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.
Mr. Obama said the legislation “crystallizes” the commitment of the United States to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that has terrorized the people of Uganda and its neighbors for two decades.
The IRC began working in Uganda in 1998 to provide emergency assistance to people who had fled the widespread devastation wrought by the LRA and its leader, Joseph Kony. A dozen years later, we are helping uprooted Ugandans return home and rebuild their lives.
George Rupp spoke with me this afternoon at the IRC’s New York headquarters about the IRC’s commitment to Uganda’s recovery, the new legislation, and how the LRA’s campaign of violence has forever altered the social fabric of northern Uganda.
What is the situation now in northern Uganda?
“The vast majority of people who were in displaced persons camps have gone back to their home villages and are beginning to support themselves again in ways we had always hoped would be the case.”
Why is this piece of legislation important?
“[President Obama] clearly is aware of the need to provide safety and security for the inhabitants … there really has to be a premium placed on protecting the most vulnerable, and that did not happen in the last effort to try to capture Kony.”
How is the IRC helping people who have been affected by the violence in Uganda?
“as people have been able to go back home … we help them begin to establish their homes, begin farming again, be able to support themselves…”
What is the long-term impact of LRA violence?
“…northern Uganda will be forever different because of this displacement, and that’s because a great many of those who had been displaced in fact are not going to go all the way back…”