The UN Special Envoy to northern Uganda and former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano has briefed the U-N Security Council on the progress of the stalled peace talks between the rebel Lord?s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and the Ugandan government.
Greg Puley is humanitarian policy advisor for OXFAM, which has been at the forefront of calling the world?s attention to the humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda. He said Chissano?s address to the Security Council comes at a crucial time in the efforts to find peace in the rebel war in northern Uganda.
?President Chissano came to report on the mission that he has undertaken to the region. He met with the leaders of the rebel movement ? the Lord?s Resistance Army ? with the Ugandan government. He actually succeeded in bringing the two sides together at a very high level, which we think is a very crucial accomplishment because it brings some hope back to the peace process,? he said.
The Ugandan war, Africa?s longest civil war, has been characterized by widespread abduction of children as child soldiers allegedly by the Lords Resistance Army rebels.
Puley said OXFAM would like more UN Security Council involvement in the ongoing efforts to find peace by bringing pressure on both the LRA rebels and the Ugandan government.
?It?s really important that the Security Council be engaged to keep international pressure and attention on the process. This is the war that has gone on for more than 20 years. For most of that time, it got very little attention from the international community despite the fact that it had such a huge impact on the people of northern Uganda. So it?s very important that the Security Council pressure the parties to solve the conflict peacefully,? Puley said.
OXFAM had also called on the Security Council to pressure the LRA to release all abducted children and women and the Ugandan government to protect civilians. Puley hopes the Chissano visit would accomplish that goal.
?Well, we?ll see what statement results from President Chissano?s meeting. But we very much hope that the Council will again insist that the Lord?s Resistance Army release non-combatants. We also hope think that the protection of civilians is very important, and we think that it?s important for the Security Council to insist on that as well,? Puley said.