Risk for Renewed Fighting in Uganda, IRC Warns
The IRC warned this week that Uganda faces an imminent return to armed conflict unless urgent action is taken to rescue stalled peace talks between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The rebel group recently suspended their participation in peace talks being held since July 2006 in the town of Juba in southern Sudan. “A resumption of hostilities is likely unless all stakeholders take decisive and immediate action to resume the talks,” said Shannon Meehan, the IRC deputy director of advocacy. The two-decade long conflict in Northern Uganda has left tens of thousands dead and displaced nearly two million people.
The LRA, led by its elusive leader Joseph Kony, is known for abducting children and forcing them to become fighters. A main sticking point in the peace talks is the issue of reconciliation and accountability. Kony and three of his top commanders are wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court. They have indicated that no peace deal can be signed while warrants for their arrest remain in place.
The LRA is asking that the venue of the peace talks be changed from Juba and for the appointment of a mediator, requests rejected by the government. The IRC, the United Nations and other humanitarian groups have described the conflict in Northern Uganda as one of the most neglected humanitarian crises in the world.