The killing of at least two aid workers this week in northern Uganda by suspected LRA rebels has caused many relief agencies to restrict or suspend humanitarian operations.
For example, OXFAM says despite the indictments of five LRA leaders by the International Criminal Court and claims by the government that the end of the 19-year war is in sight, safety and security are “distant dreams.”
Emma Naylor is Oxfam’s country program manager. From Kampala, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the deaths of the aid workers. She says, “Well, obviously among the aid community and the wider community of people who are actually living in camps in northern Uganda, the reaction has been one of great shock. These were valued colleagues of ours who were delivering essential relief to people who have been displaced by horrific conflict in northern Uganda. So, obviously, it’s a very sad time for everybody and there’s a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety. Aid agencies like OXFAM and others have also had to suspend our operations in the field because we are so worried about the security of our staff now and the security of the people that we work with that we are not able currently to move around freely and deliver the relief that we need to deliver to people.”
OXFAM assists about 250,000 people in camps for displaced persons. That’s out of about two million people in all who are displaced in the region. Ms. Naylor says OXFAM has contacted the Ugandan government about its concerns.
She says, “We’ve been asking the government for a long time to work harder to protect the population of northern Uganda and the aid agencies, who are trying to give them essential relief and support. We are very worried because the government of Uganda has been pursuing a so-called military solution, which has been to chase and hunt the rebels, who have been waging this terrible war. One of the side effects has been in our view is that the people who have actually suffered as a result of the war are not getting properly protected. And the attacks of the last few days are unfortunately evidence of the fact that aid workers and civilians in northern Uganda are not safe.” OXFAM is calling on the international community to do more to help end the nearly two-decade old conflict. It’s also asking the UN Security Council to pass a resolution in order to ensure that people are protected in northern Uganda. We would ask the Security Council to take firm action to pressurize the government of Uganda and other people involved in the conflict, such as the government of Sudan, to take urgent action to protect civilians and protect aid workers so that much needed relief can get through.”