Ugandan violence at disastrous levels

The Ugandan Parliament has passed a motion calling for the insurgency-hit north to be officially declared a disaster zone and urging the international community to help end the violence, officials said on Thursday.

“Parliament passed a motion yesterday [Wednesday] that will be given to the executive advising the declaration of some Ugandan areas affected by war as humanitarian disaster areas,” Kagole Kivumbi, spokesperson for the Parliament, said by telephone.

Only the president has the mandate to declare a region a disaster area.

“The aim of the motion is to raise both local and international attention so that these areas access assistance in terms of security and relief,” he added.

Parliament also urged the government to dedicate a day for the memory of people killed by rebels, who have for nearly two decades been waging war in the north.

The move by Parliament follows Saturday’s massacre of more than 200 people by suspected members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at Barlonyo displaced persons’ camp near the northern town of Lira.

“We call upon the international community to come to Uganda’s assistance in finding ways of ending the war to enable the international community to access funds reserved only for areas categorised as disaster areas,” read the legislators’ motion.

“Parliament condemns in the strongest terms the barbaric, horrendous and inhuman atrocities committed and which continue to be committed by [LRA leader Joseph] Kony and his rebel fighters and we appeal to the government of Sudan to assist Uganda to cause the immediate arrest and disarming of Kony and his fighters,” it added.

LRA fighters are said to have rear bases in southern Sudan, where Kony presumably lives.

Meanwhile, calm has returned to Lira following the killings on Wednesday of five people during a demonstration called to demand an end to nearly two decades of the rebel-led conflict.

The demonstration had been called following the killings in Barlonyo camp.

Police killed four people after unruly crowds directed their anger at them, and mobs lynched one person as the unrest assumed an ethnic dimension with members of the Langi ethnic group accusing their ethnic Acholi rivals of being LRA sympathisers.—Sapa-AFP

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