No Peace in Northern Uganda, Archbishop Reminds Bush

Urges U.S. Leader to Press for U.N. Action

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GULU, Uganda, JULY 13, 2003 ( Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush in an effort to get U.N. involvement in the crisis in northern Uganda.

«The president of the United States must know that Uganda is not a nation reigned by peace,» Archbishop Odama explained to Misna, when commenting on the content of his appeal. «The north is torn by violence and fighting, so George W. Bush’s agenda should not only include issues such as AIDS and the fight against terrorism.»

At the conclusion of Bush’s five-nation African tour, in Nigeria, the archbishop appealed to the president, saying: «We ask you, Mr. President, to intervene so the United Nations Security Council addresses a forgotten tragedy such as that of north Uganda, or that you directly ask the sides to engage in dialogue as in the case of Sudan.»

The archbishop noted that the north has been devastated for 18 years by the violence of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which has been fighting government troops. Since the late 1980s the conflict has deteriorated into a genocide of the Nilotic populations in the districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac and Lira, according to the prelate.

More than 20,000 children have been abducted, and 850,000 people turned into refugees, in a region of 1.4 million targeted by the LRA. The U.S. State Department recently put the LRA on a blacklist of terrorist organizations.

«We would like to turn your attention to this conflict Mr. Bush,» said Archbishop Odama. His open letter was published Saturday by Ugandan’s two main newspapers.

The letter concluded: «We ask the administration and the people of the United States to pressure the Sudanese government to stop providing arms to the LRA, to protect the children from abductions, to support efforts for a peaceful solution to the crisis, and to convince the U.N. and international public opinion that the Ugandan situation is in need of an urgent solution.»

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