Northern Uganda

This started as the on-line journal of Africa Anonymous while she was an Graduate Fellow researching and working in Northern Uganda. You gotta be good. You gotta be strong. You gotta be 2,000 places at once.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

LRA in DR Congo - potential to inflame regional animosities, AGAIN

DRC is right to be sensitive about Ugandan rebels crossing into its frontiers, especially after the Ugandan army's behavior in the DRC conflict, often referred to as Africa's world war, where seven African countries had rebels/armies at any given time. DRC is quite the strategic choice for the LRA...more to come on that thought.

Ugandan rebels force DRC army's hand
By David LewisKinshasa -

The Democratic Republic of Congo's army said on Sunday it would forcibly disarm 400 Ugandan rebels who have crossed into the northeast of the country and are refusing to lay down their weapons.A regional military commander, General Padiri Bulenda, said he would have to disarm the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in order to prevent thousands of Ugandan soldiers from crossing the border into the Congo to hunt them down.Bulenda said he visited the heavily armed rebels on Sunday. The Congo government initially denied any knowledge of the rebels' presence in its territory."There are 400 of these Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebels in Congo and they are armed to the teeth," Bulenda, commander of the 9th military region, said in a telephonic interview after returning from his reconnaissance mission."I am seeking permission to get two battalions (1 400 men) to disarm the rebels, and the UN has said they will provide us with air support."He said the rebels had heavy machine guns and sophisticated communications equipment.United Nations peacekeepers also visited the town of Aba, which lies on Congo's remote northeast border with Uganda and Sudan, and said they had confirmed the presence of at least 300 LRA rebels who were refusing to disarm.Uganda's armed forces have said LRA deputy leader Vincent Otti sought political asylum in Democratic Republic of Congo last week after fleeing hideouts in southern Sudan with about 50 fighters accompanied by women and children.General Bulenda said on Sunday: "The rebels are refusing to disarm, this is not something we can accept. There are three brigades (over 10 000 men) of Ugandan soldiers just over the border in Sudan. Unless we disarm the rebels, the Ugandans will come in and chase them."Under a 2002 deal with Khartoum, Ugandan troops can pursue the rebels about 100km inside Sudan.Congo is struggling to organise elections after a string of peace deals ended a five-year war that sucked in six neighbouring countries and killed nearly 4-million people, mostly from hunger and disease.All foreign armies have been officially withdrawn. But the Democratic Republic of Congo accuses Uganda and Rwanda of continuing to meddle in its territory, where armed groups attack civilians and plunder the country's natural resources.For 19 years the LRA has terrorised isolated communities on both sides of Uganda's border with Sudan, uprooting 1,6-million people in northern Uganda alone.The group has no clear political goals but is notorious for massacring civilians, mutilating victims and abducting thousands of children as fighters, porters and sex slaves.Diplomats in Kinshasa said the LRA rebels should be disarmed but stressed the international community would not accept any intervention in Congo by the Ugandan army, which fought alongside Congolese rebels during the five-year war.UN peacekeepers frequently conduct joint operations with the Congolese army against armed groups operating in Congo two years after the war officially ended.But a UN spokesperson would not give any details on the support the mission could provide to deal with the LRA rebels.Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly warned Congo's fragile transitional government that he would take action against Ugandan rebels in Congo if he felt they were a threat to his country.A source close to Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila called the presence of Ugandan soldiers on Congo's border "a distraction from pressure being applied on Museveni because of his meddling in Congo and attempts to prolong his presidency at home".

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lira colleagues and kids

Good lucking group, eh?

We nicknamed the little boy in the suit the Ambassador of Chad, who will escort me up the continent.

Lira Celebration

A picture with the famous Thomas.

The beginning of another Uganda ending

Pole pole, the reality of leaving Uganda again is setting in...

Last night my colleagues had a little going away party for me at the luxurious Hotel Pan Afric, where I spent two and a half months wasting away before moving to the guesthouse. I just realized how much I love this job and the people I am working with. Thomas, a driver, who had previously told me that he wants to give me a cow, took at least 30 pictures of me. We kept teasing him that we didn't believe that he actually had film in his camera, as he was snapping photos non-stop. Ever since he learned I was leaving, he comes into my office, sits there silent, unable to talk (and I dare say it looks like he wants to cry!), just shaking his head and wagging his finger at me. Yesterday he gave me an ID picture, telling me that he wants me to carry "the Black Man". Other staff have offered to accompany me to Chad.

So yes, we had a lovely party and even French champagne! Given my fondness for cava and Prosecco, I volunteered to open the bottle - I accidently took the cork with the covering, causing the bottle to explode all over myself, much to the delight of everybody else. My boss was supposed to bake a cake, but in Lira style, the power went out just before he went to work. I also received a few serenades, including John Denver's "Leaving on Jet Plane." Somehow appropriate for a Colorado gal. I managed a brief speech incorporating every Luo word I know (bicycle, egg, tree, thank you very much, how are you?).

I will be leaving Lira on Friday, and to say the least, it is all a bit surreal. I am packing my suitcase and carrying it elsewhere, but also look forward to the day that I can unpack for awhile.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rebels Without Borders

GREAT LAKES: Ugandan LRA rebels flee Sudan for CongoKAMPALA, 19 September (IRIN) - Sixty fighters in the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have left their areas of operation in northern Uganda and southern Sudan and crossed into northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ugandan army spokesman Lt Col Shaban Bantariza said on Monday. "The area they have entered is a national park in the DRC and I think here they will be able to access water and animals for food," he said in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. He said the development posed a new "inconvenience" for Uganda.Uganda and Sudan's defence chiefs have begun discussing joint operations against the LRA, Uganda's State House, the official home of the president, announced on Sunday. It said Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir had made the proposal to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni in New York, through Sudan's foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail.Bantariza said the LRA rebels now in the DRC were led by the movement's second in command, Vincent Otti. "Otti and others including a senior commander called Odhiambo have taken flight to DRC from the pressure we had mounted on them east of the River Nile," Bantariza said. Other dissident Ugandan forces - the Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda - have been in the DRC for years. The Congolese government has said their presence "would no longer be tolerated", and has given all foreign armed groups till 30 September to disarm and leave the country or face "serious consequences".Bantariza said that LRA leader Joseph Kony was also on the run but he may be heading west.Kony's fighters are accused of forcibly recruiting children and using them as sex slaves. Up to 1.6 million Ugandans have been displaced by the fighting.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Countdown Begins

I am back in Lira after a relaxing weekend back in Makindye staying with German Steffi #1. I stayed in my old bed, and while I shrugged off Steffi's initial offer to use her curtains as a comforter in light of the blanket shortage, I awoke freezing the second night and took up the offer. Uganda continues to be all about improvisation. And now I am in my final Lira days...

Upon my arrival in the office this morning, I learned that my "best friend" in Ogur Camp had again sent my colleagues with some gifts and his greetings. He gave me a big stick with a clumped head, which I am told is for cooking (and we all know how much of that I do). And as the staff were leaving the camp, he ran after the car, telling my colleagues that I would be hungry too, so he sent them with a pumpkin!

It is nice to be back in Lira and I only have a few days left with much to do. I will finally see Baby Kelly again, as she will make the journey from Gulu with her momma. I also hope to squeeze in another run with my groupees. Otherwise, the clock is ticking!

Friday, September 16, 2005

LRA Attacks in Southern Sudan

SUDAN-UGANDA: LRA rebels attack villages in south Sudan

KAMPALA, 15 September (IRIN) - A group of about 40 raiders believed to
be fighters of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel movement
attacked villages in southern Sudan earlier this week, setting homes on
fire and abducting several people, officials said on Thursday.

"They attacked during broad daylight [on Tuesday] the areas of Lanya
and Loka situated west of Yei. They burned houses and abducted an
unspecified number of people as they headed further west towards the border
with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)," said George Riak, an
official of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), in Kampala.

He noted that a young girl who was one of those taken captive had since
been released. There were no reports of casualties during the raid, he

"They are still moving towards the border with the DRC, and we still
don't know whether the intention is to enter Congo. But we are trying our
best not to allow them to enter the DRC," said Riak.

There were fears earlier that the LRA's objective was to cut off a
major road leading to the southern Sudanese city of Juba, but according to
Riak, this had not happened by Thursday.

Other reports indicated that the LRA attacked and took control of
several villages in southeastern Sudan and stole food crops from farms after
residents fled.

The LRA, which has fought against the Ugandan government for nearly two
decades, ostensibly in a bid to replace President Yoweri Museveni's
administration with one based on the biblical Ten Commandments, is said to
have bases in some parts of southern Sudan.

The group gained notoriety for its brutality against civilians and the
abduction of children for conscription into its ranks.

Kampala and Khartoum signed a protocol in 2002, under which Ugandan
troops are allowed to pursue LRA fighters in southern Sudan. Ugandan army
operations inside Sudanese territory have only succeeded in dispersing
insurgents and seizing weapons, and groups of LRA raiders still manage
to carry out attacks inside Uganda occasionally.

Insecurity in northern Uganda has led to the displacement of an
estimated 1.5 million people who have become dependent on relief aid.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm still here, believe it or not

I am not doing a very good job of keeping up the site these days. My Lira life and work continue to keep me busy, and to be frank, I've lost my inspiration to write! The novelty continues to fade.

But I am doing great. I had a few days on the Kenyan coast last weekend, so no complaints - well aside from a blistering burn despite SPF 30. Just two days ago I moved into the guesthouse from the hotel with my colleagues, which is a tremendous improvement to our lives. Other news: I’ve learned to carry a jerry can of water on my head (ok, it was a small one and I still had to use my hands) and we’ve got volleyball (with me as the “coach”) and football (soccer) teams. It appears that I’ve also become a celebrity of sorts in Ogur IDP camp. A man wears my business card pinned to a plastic bag to his shirt. The bag is supposed to protect the card from the rain. The man comes running anytime he sees a vehicle from our organization, but I have yet to return. Yesterday my colleagues delivered a letter on his behalf, where he requested, as my best friend, that I get on the radio to send my greetings to him so that his friends could all hear.

So I am wrapping up my contract here before the end of the month. I am trying not to think about having to leave Uganda yet again. Even stranger that, after a brief Europe/Colorado interlude, I will be sent to Chad to work with Darfur refugees along the Sudan-Chad border.

So that is just a bit of me for now. We shall see what I can come up with before leaving here again.