DISTRICT SECURITY UPDATE
Gulu - There were reports of LRA movements throughout the district, and of rebels mutilating civilians. Several areas, including Amuru-Omee, Awach-Palaro, Omoro, Minakulu, Awoo Bobi, Opit, Lalogi, and Awere remained unsafe, with large LRA crossings reported from Apac district. LRA Commander Vincent Otti was reported to have crossed back into Sudan. However, later reports towards the end of March indicated that he had returned to the Kilak hills.
Kitgum - Insecurity in the northern part of Kitgum near the Sudan border remained a challenge to humanitarian actors, hindering access to about 40,000 IDPs in the region. The deteriorating security situation was reportedly orchestrated by a fresh batch of about 300 LRA rebels, who reportedly crossed over from Sudan and began unleashing atrocities upon civilians, looting IDPs' property, attacking military detachments, killing and mutilating civilians.
Pader - Security continued to deteriorate, with frequent attacks on UPDF (Ugandan army) detachments. There were unconfirmed reports that the UPDF soldiers in the district had been withdrawn for deployment in the peace-keeping exercise in Somalia. This seems to have spurred the morale of the LRA rebels, who carried out attacks on UPDF detachments and IDP camps. The early onset of the first rains in the northern region worsened the situation, as the vegetation grew thicker, making it difficult for the UPDF to spot the rebels.
Lira - The security situation in the district, except for Aromo sub-county and Otuke county, remained generally calm. In Aromo and Otuke, LRA movements were random and fluid, and attacks, abductions and killings caused a lot of fear among IDPs, preventing them from tending their fields. The UPDF continued to advise IDPs not to venture outside the camps before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. Nonetheless, all access roads and IDP camps remained open to humanitarian agencies.
Teso sub-region (Soroti, Katakwi and Kaberamaido districts) - The region continued to enjoy relative calm. In Katakwi, however, reports toward the end of the month that LRA rebels had been seen in Orungo sub-county, caused a lot of panic. Several people who had returned to their villages in Orungo near the border with Lira district, moved into the bigger camps for security. While authorities in Katakwi say that the situation is not alarming, there has been an increased need for humanitarian assistance in the main camps where people have flocked.
II. IDP MOVEMENT AND CAMP ISSUES
Gulu - There were civilian movements away from Minakulu, 35 km south of Gulu, due to increased rebel presence and other insecurity incidents, including abductions and killings. In Bobi camp, about 24km south of Gulu town, children started commuting again because of a large and persistent rebel presence near the camp. For nearly four months, there were no night commuters in Bobi camp. The Lacor night commuter centre registered a slight increase in night commuters, although other centres in the municipality have registered a small decline. According to records from UNICEF, there were, on average, about 11,000 night commuters in Gulu per day in March.
Kitgum - Some IDPs from Kitgum Matidi and Lagoro were reported to have spontaneously relocated to Oryang, a new settlement seven 7 km east of Kitgum. This brought to three the number of satellite camps recently established by IDPs in Kitgum. The others are Ogili in Palabek and Akilok in Orom sub-counties. UNICEF, ICRC and other aid agencies planned assessments of the situation in these camps. The Kitgum District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) set up a Return and Resettlement Task Force to develop a return plan, including the voluntary decongestion of IDP settlements; and to set standards for the development of new IDP settlements.
Pader - Some IDPs were reportedly moving to Omot and Lukole sub-counties. However, both sub-counties lack schools, and the nearest, Ngora Primary School, is 3kms away, making access to it difficult due to late deployment of soldiers on the main road.
Lira - People continued migrating from the urban camps/areas (IDPs living with host families) to rural camps. IDPs also returned from Apac and other areas outside Lira. The population in most of the rural camps has increased by about 30% since December 2005. An inter-agency assessment in March highlighted the disparity between the old planning figures (WFP verification exercise, October 2004) and the current reality in the camps. This calls for a new verification exercise.
Teso - Most parts of Teso sub-region had started receiving rainfall by mid March, prompting movement of IDPs to camps nearer their areas of origin, while leaving behind some members of their families, especially children and the elderly. Although most IDPs, especially in Katakwi, may not be able to access their own land, they can borrow some portions of land for cultivation from their hosting communities.
III. ACCESS ISSUES
Gulu - The Awach-Palaro area remained extremely insecure and inaccessible, and district security officials advised some aid agencies against travelling there. The Amuru-Omee area was also extremely unsafe, although agencies could access it with military escort. The UPDF restricted IDP movements to a maximum of 2km outside the camps.
Despite the insecurity, IDPs slowly began accessing their land for the first planting season, as the rains started.
Kitgum - In the face of increased security, agencies raised concern about the composition of soldiers escorting aid workers, complaining about the limited numbers and quality of soldiers. It is alleged that UPDF soldiers who used to provide escort services were withdrawal from the north to serve in the peacekeeping operation in Somalia and replaced by ill-trained and ill-equiped local militias.
Following requests by aid agencies for more access to land for IDPs to cultivate, district security officials considered increasing the 'protected radius' around camps from 1km to between two and three kilometres. However, given the recent deterioration in security, increased access to land is only likely to be achieved in areas where security is relatively stable.
Lira - All IDP camps and access roads are open to humanitarian agencies. Rebel movements, abductions and killing were reported in Aromo and Amugo sub-counties, and Otuke county, but this did not deter humanitarian agencies from accessing the areas, as the threat was not considered to be so serious.
IV. REFUGEE ISSUES
In March, UNHCR Uganda registered 1,621 new arrivals (895 in Pakelle and 726 in Arua), a dramatic increase, according to the refugee agency. The main reasons for the refugee movements are:
* Insecurity due to LRA activities: The majority of the new arrivals came from the IDP camps in Mugali, Magwi and Nimule in Southern Sudan, following attacks by the LRA.
* Food insecurity
* Family reunification: Another group of new arrivals came from Katigiri, Lainya Rojo and Juba county. These, most of whom were mainly women and children from Juba, were returning to their homes but found that their relatives had relocated to Rhino Camp and Imvepi or Koboko.
* Forced recruitment by SPLA: unconfirmed refugees reports indicate that SPLA is carrying out forced recruitment.
* Education opportunities: Many of the new arrivals from Maridi area came in search of education opportunities, claiming that the schools in Sudan were expensive.
* Social-cultural factors: Some female new arrivals reported that they had to face problems related to 'wife inheritance'.
* Insecurity: Refugees coming from Bar-el-Ghazel claimed that there is currently rampant tribal fighting among the Agar vs Ngok and Apuk Dinka tribes . Reasons for this fighting were cattle rustling and women. In Aweil and Gogorial, some militia known as Murahiliin were abducting children and women and looting property and cattle.
The LRA has continued destabilising refugee settlements in Adjumani district. Security incidents reported in March included an attack in Melijo, close to Olua refugee settlement (south east of Pakelle) on 25 and the 26 March. Some13 people were abducted to carry looted food and non food items, one of whom has not returned.
The main protection issue is the physical safety of refugees living in settlements east of Adjumani district and in the Zoka belt (south of Adjumani). The capacity of the LRA to attack is extremely high, and there is concern that the UPDF is unable to provide adequate security to civilians. The insecurity is likely to prevent refugees displaced by the LRA attacks last year from returning to their original settlements.
Meanwhile, some 800 new arrivals are still living at the reception centre in Palorinya, due to lack of land for agricultural and residential purposes. The overcrowded situation is fertile ground for the spread of epidemics and SGBV. The steady increasing in the number of new arrivals can only worsen the situation if a solution - i.e. the establishment of a new settlement - is not found immediately. Land for the establishment of new settlement has already been identified, but national authorities (National Forest Authority and Office of the Prime Minister) are yet to consider the setting of new settlements as a top priority.
V. HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
Insecurity in northern Uganda remained the biggest obstacle to cultivation, in spite of the onset of the rainy season. Several IDPs caught venturing outside the camps in search of food, water or firewood, and those found tending their fields, were abducted, mutilated or killed. This has rendered the population in the Acholi sub-region (Gulu, Kitgum and Pader) perpetually dependent on food distributed by WFP and other humanitarian agencies. Meanwhile, according to FewsNet, food conditions continued to deteriorate in Karamoja in March, where approximately 117,000 people were currently receiving food assistance with the number expected to increase to 570,000 by April 2005. Declining livestock prices and high cereal prices were projected to lower pastoral households' ability to procure food. A good season is imperative to improve crop and livestock production and replenish food stocks.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND NUTRITION
In spite of the alarm caused by the incidence of cholera in Gulu the previous month, no cases were reported in April. There were reports of rabies in Anaka camp, where four people reportedly died after being bitten by stray dogs. District health officials were yet to intervene.
In Kitgum, agencies involved in the health sector, including the DDHS and UNICEF mounted a massive immunization campaign against polio (OPV), measles and other child related diseases. The exercise covered about 75,470 children between the ages of one month to five years. About 33,200 adolescent girls, childbearing women and lactating mothers were vaccinated against tetanus. According to the DDHS, the vaccination campaign was successful, with about 95% coverage for measles and 85% for OPV.
In Teso sub-region, OCHA mobilised stakeholders to discuss the problem of sleeping sickness. In response, WFP acknowledged the need to support sleeping sickness patients in Lwala hospital and was considering to provide food for 70 patients and one attendant each at the hospital for three months.
WATER AND SANITATION
The major issue in this sector was the need to enhance coordination at field level. In some districts in northern Uganda, agencies in the sector started working towards promoting best practices, including the management and use of water and sanitation tools distributed in IDP camps, harmonization of hygiene promotion strategies, recruitment and management of volunteers and other approaches. Lack of coordination in the sector has led to poor community participation and management.
The salient issues in the education sector in the conflict-affected districts include:
* Continued lack of accommodation for teachers;
* School feeding programme still not implemented by WFP;
* Weak management of learning centres in IDP camps;
* Lack of reliable data from schools in camps, regarding enrolment; and
* Large numbers of children still not going to school in spite of the availability of the service and scholastic materials.
SHELTER AND NON-FOOD ITEMS
Humanitarian agencies continued distribution of non-food items, including blankets, clothes, soap and cooking utensils, in IDP camps. However, IDPs in rural camps identified a gap in shelter materials, particularly complaining about the long distances they have to travel in search of thatch and poles for construction. Having to venture outside the camps places the displaced people at a risk of abduction or death in the hands of LRA rebels. Furthermore, fire outbreaks in some IDP camps continued to be a menace in Gulu, causing heavy loses and leaving thousands of already vulnerable households homeless.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND PROTECTION
The major protection and human rights issues included:
* Allegations of arrest of civilians by the UPDF and detention in military barracks;
* Restriction by the UPDF of IDPs' access to farmland, in some cases to no more than 1km outside the camps due to insecurity.
VI. POLICY ISSUES
The main policy issues in March included the following:
* While partners have been called upon to support the implementation of the IDP policy, many agencies are still concerned about the government's commitment and contributions/resources to its implementation.
* The custody of children from captivity has become a major policy issue, as the former LRA commanders demand the custody of their children, along with the mothers/ 'wives', some of them below 18 years of age. The lack of acceptance by the families and communities of these child mothers is of great concern, hence the need for the Department of Community Services to become more involved with the relevant child agencies in such a serious protection issue.
* The lack of support for the IDPs in northern Apac district has been raised in different fora. Many of these IDPs bordering Gulu district are forced to seek relief assistance from Gulu camps such as Bobi, Lalogi and Opit. WFP and OCHA are considering carrying out an assessment in these camps.
* The UPDF continues to restrict the movements of IDPs, and their access to land, to a limited distance from the camp borders for security reasons, thus affecting food security, while the constant quest for food security by many camp residents remains a very hazardous undertaking.
* The need for the creation of fire breaks to avoid camp fires through the erection of low gauged iron sheets requires serious consideration from aid agencies and the government. This has been the worst year for fires yet. The de-congestion exercise at Pabbo has been useful, but it has been slow and expensive. Moreover, it is questionable in the current poor security environment whether the army would allow more sites to be created.
* There appears to be no consistency in the messages which the ICC is receiving about its prosecution process in northern Uganda. A high level delegation from Gulu went to The Hague to lobby for a delay in the issuing of arrest warrants to senior LRA officers. Later, however, there appears to be a high level delegation from Pader, travelling to The Hague to argue for the prosecutions to begin. In March, the Minister of State for Northern Rehabilitation made it clear that the government wanted the ICC prosecution to go ahead as soon as possible.
VII. MISSIONS AND VISITS
The main missions to the conflict-affected districts in March included the following:
* A large USAID mission visited the northern districts to examine post- conflict recovery planning.
* The ECHO desk officer for Brussels and the ECHO programme officer and administrator from Kampala also undertook a visit to most of the war affected districts. The aim was to assess the current humanitarian gaps and how ECHO's strategy for 2005 would address them. The biggest gap remains in the water and sanitation sector.
* Ms Elizabeth Lwanga, Director of the Africa Bureau in UNDP New York, visited northern Uganda .The visit was partly to consolidate UNDP's thinking on recovery interventions in the region.
* The US Ambassador to WFP and FAO in Rome, Tony Hall, visited the north and went out with WFP and FAO on respective food and seed distributions.
* Officials from the Swiss Development Co-operation visited northern Uganda on a follow-up mission to their visit last year. They met with IDPs and night commuters.
Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Date: 31 Mar 2005
THE PARLIAMENT OF UGANDA
P.O BOX 7178, KAMPALA
TEL.348584, FAX. 342364
Hon. Amama Mbabazi,
Minister of Defense.
The Republic of Uganda.
Minister of Internal Affairs
The Republic of Uganda
REF.VIOLATION OF RIGHTS, MILITARISED RULE OF LAW AND POLITICISED MILITARY DETENSION WITHOUT TRIAL.
I would like to seriously draw your attention to the rampant violation of human rights by some section of the UPDF. I draw your attention in particular to the UPDF 11 battalion. The following are some of the extreme reported cases and there are others like beatings that seem to be normal now: -
-On the 9/2/2005 Owiny P.Oneka of Paduny parish in Awach sub-county Aswa county was shot by UPDF from his house in Awach Camp.
-On 15/2/2005 Nyeko Batulumayo of Paduny parish,Awach subcounty Aswa county was gunned down by UPDF.
-On 18/2.2005 Ayella Vincent was killed in Awach Camp by UPDF.
-On 18/2/2005 Kidega Richard a teacher of Olel P7 was killed by UPDF.
-1/3/2005 Nyero David from Awach Camp was beaten to near death by UPDF-HE IS IN HOSPITAL.
-2/3/2005 One Ave was killed in Awach camp area by UPDF.
-19/2/2005 Odong Binoni of Pagik camp was tortured to near death by UPDF
-5/3/2005 Oneka Kenneth of Pagik Camp was shot dead by the UPDF
-5/3/2005 Onuna of Pagik was killed by UPDF.
At this rate with the many tortures and beatings, 11 battalion will reduce our population greatly if you do not act. This same matter has been reported to the fourth division PC.
Secondly I would like to draw your attention to the militarized rule of law and politicized detention of people without trial of people opposed to NRMO party in the entire Acholi sub-region. A week ago Mr.Orach Otim was arrested by UPDF from Pabbo camp and taken to Gulu military barrack where he is being detain-he is told that if he joins the movement (NRMO) then he would be release. Yesterday the Chairman LC1 of green valley in Gulu Mr.Olanya Stephen were arrested together with the LCV councilor of Lamogi Mr.Penytoo David by police on an alleged charge of attempting murder which was the right procedure but by 300pm they were taken away by UPDF from police custody. This in particular is worrying given the fact that the two were arrested by the state in 2002 on allegation of murder and treason only to be set free after more than one year of detention and torture when the state withdrew the case. This is part of the frame up charges because the last time state officials asked them to accept amnesty and support NRMO, which they refused, and to date this is their major crime. If the state has a case-take them to court and prison not UPDF barracks. Further to this Col.Otema Charles has been threatening these people after their first release with another nightmare if they dare continue with the opposition politics.Col.Otema Charles is openly campaigning for President Museveni and his third term project with serious threats to people opposed to that. From my sources, Col.Otema Charles is allegedly threatening death to the opposition leaders including me. He is further being allege to be planning to use former LRA rebels in his allege project. For this reason since there is no smoke without fire this is a serious warning signal, which you should seriously, investigate this matter. Mean while my safety and that of other leaders remain the responsibility of the state.
Thirdly Hon. Ministers, there is a high court standing order for UPDF division four to release the body of Peter Oloya who was killed by UPDF while on a night raid on 16/9/2002 where 22 prisoners were forcefully removed from Gulu central prison and they were taken and unlawfully detained at UPDF barracks for over 3 months until a high court order demanded for their transfer to civil prison before the state as usual dropped their murder/treason charges.
This matters Hon.Ministers, I trust that you are senior and competent enough to handle because it does not only expose government in serious violation of human rights but as a government engaged in a mockery of a transition to multi-party democracy where state institutions are not fused with the interest of the ruling party.
Yours in struggle for good governance.
OKUMU RONALD REAGAN-MP
ASWA COUNTY-GULU DISTRICT.
CC.SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT
CC.HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS
CC .ALL DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IN UGANDA
Typical with Museveni's dictatorship, they silence people who inform the world about the on going genocide in uganda. Farther Carlos was threatened with deportation and death, peasants their tongues are cut-out and now the writer of the above, a murder charge has been manufactured and planted on him and other true voices!! I think this is the right time to start a people's intifhada to send the regime packing!!