05 October 2010

Voice of Youth From Northern Uganda

Guest of honour, fellow youth, children, country men and women of this nation. Today as we celebrate the international day of Peace, we have to bear at the back of our mind that this is a global call for ceasefire and non violence. We the youth of Northern Uganda invites all nations and peace practitioners to honour cessation of hostilities and commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked. Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the millennium development goals aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease and maternal mortality by 2015.
All the negative conditions above reflect greatly on us the youth of Northern Uganda who are emerging from the dark claws of war for the last 2 decades. We have comparatively lagged behind in terms of economic security, education, employment, health and our hope in life has continued to dwindle. This year’s celebration of the International Peace Day and particularly the theme: “Peace, Youth and Development present to us a perfect opportunity to aid out our voices in demand for a peaceful co-existence and development.
Peace is something unseen, something untouched and something divine that needs a gradual process to reach at. Peace in northern Uganda is a general concern and the wish of all Ugandans and all the stakeholders to ensure that a common understanding exists so that everything runs smoothly.
A cry for peace is the tears of all in suffering, so is Uganda. We the youth of northern Uganda appeal to any warrior and peace lover to help us seek and find peace through love, forgiveness, reconciliation but not through hatred, wars and rebellion.
In the same spirit, we would like to appeal to all Ugandans to develop the spirit of love and accommodation of each others views especially in the forth coming national elections next year. We have witnessed the untold suffering that violence can inflict in the society in the recent years in Kenya. We would therefore not wish to experience the same in the name of our political differences.
In conclusion, as we join the whole world, we believe that with commitment in the peace process we shall have it one day. We call upon the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army to pursue a peaceful means of ending the conflict in our region.

In another related development on September 21st 2010 a Peace March was held in Gulu as part of the celebration of International World Peace Day the Chairman of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba gave a speech and Rev. Willy gives you an extract.
We as religious leaders support the initiative of the World all over to celebrate a day of peace. Peace does not necessarily means absent of war. For instance people fighting for land is a sign that there is no peace, where domestic violence is high is sign that there is no peace, when fellow citizens fight for votes that is a sign of insecurity, when people abuse each other on radios is a sign that they are not at peace. So peace should not only be treated as silence of the gun but where God’s children live in harmony with one another and this should start at home.

Under the theme “Showing solidarity with all people affected by the LRA regardless of the country they come from” I would like to link this to the LRA disarmament bill and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009 which president Obama signed into law on the 24th May 2010. Since we stand for non violence we wrote an open letter urging him against use of force.
This walk which is dedicated to the children abducted by the LRA and the suffering they go through, for the sake of these children we urge regional movements to adapt dialogues to end the war.
Every effort should therefore be made to provide opportunities for defection, to provide services such as rehabilitation centre in CAR, DRC, Sudan and Uganda and to foster reconciliation within communities.
For over 23 years millions of our sisters and brothers throughout Northern Uganda and Eastern Uganda have suffered violence at the hands of the LRA rebel group. As church leaders from Northern Uganda, we have witnessed the past and present impact of the LRA in our communities. We know children who were abducted and force to fight for the LRA. We know women who were raped and abused by the LRA, and we know of countless others who are still in captivity with the rebels.
To the Lords Resistance Army
• Immediately desist from all forms of violence against the civilian population
• Release those abducted so they may return home to their families
• Allow uninhibited access to individuals in need so that humanitarian aid can be provided to them
• Show a commitment to peace by renewing communication with the GoU and or other stakeholders
• Honour commitments made during the Juba Peace Talks
To the Government of Uganda
• To develop a withdrawal plan for Ugandan troops in co-ordination with the regional governments and the United Nations to ensure civilian protection and containment of conflict
• Honour the commitment made to the Juba Peace Talks and seek ways for the hurried implementation of the agenda items
• Fulfill the commitment to the Peace and Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) both financially
• Practically endure effective performance
• Prioritize reconciliation and forge ways to faster harmonious coexistence
Regional Governments of LRA affected areas (Uganda, DRC, South Sudan and CAR)
• Purse dialogue with the LRA as a means of ending the conflict
• Continue to engage in robust diplomacy with regional stakeholders to meet the needs of the affected people.
• Develop and support a joint containment strategy to ensure the violence does not continue to spread
• Make it a commitment to meeting the humanitarian needs of the LRA affected communities in a time sensitive manner
• Develop a plan to foster the return and rehabilitation of individuals who have been abducted by the LRA in their respective countries
• Engage in trust and confidence building approaches with the LRA
The International Community
• Increase support for the implementation of the items agreed upon in the Juba peace talks, especially transitional justice mechanisms which foster community reconciliation in accordance to what was agreed under Agenda Item#3 on Accountability & Reconciliation
• Engage with stakeholders at the grassroots level of all LRA affected areas in the region in order to determine a consensus on how to move forward.

No comments: