Uganda's Forgotten War

Missionary Appeals Urgently for Prayer

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KITGUM, Uganda, MAY 29, 2003 ( The international press has shown indifference to the «forgotten war» bloodying northern Uganda, says an Italian missionary.

Comboni Father Tarcizio Pazzagia, 69, of the Kitgum parish in the Archdiocese of Gulu, described one of the most difficult moments in the civil war that has hit hard in the Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts of the Acholi ethnic group.

«In face of the continuing violence afflicting north Uganda, I feel the need to turn to the Italian Church, which I serve as missionary, for prayers,» he said by phone.

Father Pazzagia told the Misna missionary agency: «Every day, I repeat, every single day, there are rebel ambushes against the poor people.»

«The last ambush,» he said, «was conducted yesterday afternoon in Lanyatido, a location of the Pader district, 5 kilometers south of the Catholic mission of Pajule. A pickup truck was intercepted by the rebels of the LRA. The driver miraculously managed to escape, though some of the passengers suffered gunshot wounds.» The LRA is the Lord’s Resistance Army.

«A similar episode, with other wounded, occurred near the center of Pader last Sunday,» he said. The priest said the situation degenerates daily.

«Ours is a forgotten war, a war that is not unfolding under the limelight of the international press and in which the highest price is being paid by women, elderly and children,» he added. The LRA has abducted numerous minors and turned them into child-soldiers.

Father Pazzaglia explained that his mission of Kitgum is the destination of «continuous pilgrimages of displaced people in desperate need of food, blankets and medicine.»

«I ask the Italian Church for prayers, because here in north Uganda, in all these years of violence, many promises have been made by politicians to resolve this crisis, without however ever obtaining any results to speak of,» he said.

«Only the religious leaders — Catholic, Protestant and Muslim — are acting decisively in favor of peace,» he added. «I am ever more convinced that the prayer of intercession is the only weapon we have, along with evangelical solidarity, to give back hope to our people. Pray for us!»

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