IRC Calls for Urgent Action to Halt Northern Uganda Violence as New Data Reveals 1,000 Civilians Die Weekly in Conflict
New figures indicating that 1,000 civilians die every week in the northern Uganda conflict make horrifyingly clear the need for urgent action by the international community and the Ugandan government to find an immediate and peaceful resolution to the 19-year civil war.
The study, which examined war-related death from January through July 2005 in conflict-ravaged Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts, found that almost 26,000 excess deaths are estimated to have occurred during that time period due to the effects of the ongoing civil conflict, including mass displacement, disrupted livelihoods, deplorable and overcrowded camp conditions, violence, and restricted access to health care.
“This report quantifies the human cost of the conflict in northern Uganda, and reinforces what humanitarian agencies have long said – the situation in northern Uganda represents a grave humanitarian crisis,” says Ciarán Donnelly, who oversees the International Rescue Committee’s humanitarian aid programs in Uganda. “This requires an urgent and massive response both to address the immediate needs of affected populations and to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
Violence continues to be one of the top three causes of mortality in the north, yet is continuously underreported. The study, carried out by the International Rescue Committee in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and WFP, estimates that violence was the cause of almost 4,000 civilians deaths during the first seven months of this year, an average of 20 violent deaths every day. In addition, an estimated 1,168 were abducted during this timeframe – a startling 42 per week – with almost half being children below the age of 15.
Northern Ugandans will continue to die unnecessarily and endure unimaginable human suffering until current efforts to resolve the crisis are intensified, and more resources to sustain the ailing population are increased.
The IRC calls on all parties to the conflict to do everything in their power to:
• Work seriously toward a negotiated and sustainable peace settlement and national reconciliation.
• Protect civilians, ensure their rights are respected and adhere to International Humanitarian Law and Ugandan law, in particular the National Policy on Internal Displaced Persons.
• Ensure unencumbered humanitarian access to all war-affected communities in the north so that lifesaving services can continue and be scaled up.
• Vastly improve conditions, particularly overcrowding, in camps for the internally displaced and support the eventual voluntary return of the displaced to areas of origin.
International agencies and donor nations should:
• Immediately prioritise funding for an increase in the quality and quantity of lifesaving humanitarian actions aimed at the achievement of minimum humanitarian standards in northern Uganda.
• Incessantly pressure Ugandan authorities and the Lord’s Resistance Army to commit to meaningful and good faith engagement in the peace process.
• Continually urge all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under Ugandan and international humanitarian law, including an immediate cessation of violence against civilians.
• Remain committed. Robust and sustained international engagement is essential to finding a permanent solution to the conflict and creating an environment conducive to recovery.