Threat of Genocide Feared in Northern Uganda

U.N. Adviser Tells of Atrocities by Rebel Force

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GENEVA, NOV. 29, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Vatican media have reported on the “horrible and atrocious” conflict that the people of northern Uganda continue to suffer at the hands of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.

In its Sunday edition, L’Osservatore Romano reported on a complaint made Nov. 25 by Dennis McNamara, special U.N. adviser for the displaced in humanitarian crises, on his return from a mission in the African country.

In a press conference in Geneva, McNamara confirmed that the atrocities perpetrated by the “olum” — or “grass,” as the LRA rebels are called in the Acholi language — continue systematically.

Such atrocities prolong a situation “which is among the most neglected and serious in the world” and which, in the absence of outside intervention, “could worsen,” stated the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper.

Among the tragedies are that of the child-soldiers. Since 1986, rebels have forced tens of thousands of boys into combat or slavery. The target of the conflict, led by Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels, is the Kampala government.

The price of war in Uganda includes the torture and death of innumerable civilians. The death toll is estimated at more than 120,000.

Hair-raising crimes

According to McNamara, “Only concerted and sustained international pressures” can put an end to the succession of violence perpetrated by the LRA rebels, who “devastate the north of Uganda with hair-raising crimes.”

This brings ever closer “the threat of a real genocide of the Teso, Kuman, Acholi and Lango ethnic groups,” warned the Vatican newspaper.

Almost all the inhabitants of the area are displaced and survive in desperate conditions due to lack of food and medicines, and the threat of Kony’s rebels, “the madman who aspires to be the founder of a regime that he blasphemously states is inspired in religious precepts,” reported L’Osservatore Romano.

“According to McNamara,” the newspaper added, “in the north Ugandan camps for the displaced the rate of mortality is double that of the tormented Sudanese western region of Darfur.”

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