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Rebel Attacks Force Reduction of Aid in Northern Uganda

Relief agencies say the security situation in northern Uganda continues to worsen, with increasing attacks by LRA rebels. As a result, many humanitarian operations have been scaled back. One of the relief agencies affected is OXFAM.

Emma Naylor is the organization’s program manager. From Kampala, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the effects of rebel attacks.

She says, “Relief operations are still being very seriously affected. OXFAM and most other organizations, who are working in the most northerly district of Kitgum and the other district of Pader, neighboring Kitgum, are currently unable to move outside town areas. We’re extremely worried. We understand that there have been direct threats against NGOs. And of course in the last couple of weeks there have been fatal attacks on NGO workers. So, unfortunately aid operations are still pretty much suspended.”

Security in northern Uganda has declined in the recent weeks following indictments against LRA leaders by the International Criminal Court. Ms. Naylor says, “I think since the issue of arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court the situation has somewhat changed in northern Uganda. We do support the Criminal Court in its process, but the issue of arrest warrants has had an impact on our capacity to work on the ground. Since the issuing of arrest warrants, we understand that it’s now possible the LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army, rebels may now be targeting NGOs and foreign workers.”

The OXFAM spokesperson does not blame the ICC for the problem, adding, “I think that what the problem is not the action of the court, but the fact that the government of Uganda and the international community have failed to take proper action following the issue of the arrest warrants to make sure that communities who are displaced and living in camps, and also aid agencies, to make sure that they are properly protected.”