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Early Signs of Peace Dividends in Northern Uganda

If peace finally takes hold in northern Uganda, life will change dramatically for millions of people, who’ve been displaced.

Cathy Relleen is an advocacy adviser for the aid agency OXFAM. From Kampala, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the effects of the new ceasefire.

“For the communities that we’ve been working with this is excellent news. I mean this is the biggest hope that we’ve had for a long time of sustained peace in the region. I was out in the camps a couple of weeks ago and you could already see the impact of increased security on communities there. People were accessing their fields. Kids were going to school. People were generally feeling safe. This is a great opportunity,” she says.

What’s been the reaction among young and old to the news? Relleen says, “I mean obviously this has been a conflict that has affected children in a really significant way. Children have been the focus of abductions. They’ve been subject to the greatest impact of malnutrition. And the security for them, it’s a new thing. I mean the older generation, they know where their fields were. They know where their houses were. They have a sense of what they could go back to. And so, if these peace talks fail it will be doubly hard on them knowing what they know about what peace can actually bring and what it can mean to them and their families.”

OXFAM assists in water and sanitation efforts and livelihood programs, which supply livestock and oxen and ploughs and institute farming projects. Relleen says trhat the programs give the people a sense of worth and independence. Nevertheless, she says even if a lasting peace takes hold, OXFAM’s work in northern Uganda will continue for a long time.