Uganda: Starving Tribes Seek the AK-47 Cure

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February 6, 2009: First it was guns and gangs, now it’s drought. For years the government’s main worry in the Karamoja region was cattle-raiding by gangs with a lot of automatic weapons. Karamoja is one of Uganda’s poorest areas and some of the raiders, when arrested, told the military and police they were stealing to survive.. The “weapons turn in” program had mixed results but the area became a bit more peaceable. Now severe drought afflicts Karamoja and stealing to survive may really become a necessity. It's estimated that 970,000 people in Karamoja could starve (to be specific, the people are in an “at risk” situation).

February 4, 2009: The government said that Ugandan soldiers serving with peacekeeping forces in Somalia did not kill “dozens of civilians.” Authorities in Mogadishu, Somalia had accused the Ugandans of firing into a crowd and killing 36 people. Uganda has around 1600 soldiers serving with AMISOM (acronym for the African Union;’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia) and has announced it plans to add another battalion (around 700 soldiers) to its peacekeeping contingent sometime this year. The Ugandan contingent has been serving in Somalia since March 2007. Six Ugandan soldiers have died while performing peacekeeping duties in Somalia.

February 2, 2009: The government said the Ugandan Army operating in the Congo had rescued 119 Congolese who were abducted by the LRA. The number represents the total number of rescued since December 2008.

January 29, 2009: A UN investigation confirmed that LRA guerrillas had killed 100 civilians in the village of Tora (in Congo on the south Sudan border). The murders took place on January 16.

January 25, 2009: The government and several oil companies believe Uganda has a “world class” oil field. The oil field, named “Buffalo-Giraffe” (hey, this is Africa), may have 400 million barrels of recoverable oil. The oil field is in the Lake Albert Rift Basin. Ugandan commentators fear that Uganda could catch “the oil disease” – oil cash going into the pockets of corrupt elites rather than being used for investment.

January 21, 2009: The government continues to wrestle with the problem of “reintegrating” former LRA fighters. Many of them are former abductees, in other words, victims of the LRA themselves. A few, however, are guilty of what are clearly war crimes: theft, murder, arson, and rape. The government wants to make certain the northerners who had sentimental attachment to the rebels’ calls for a separate northern state don’t feel punished. The government wants re-settled former fighters to become economically productive (hence the “farm skills training” programs the government is funding). However, a lot of Ugandans think the criminal acts should be punished.

January 20, 2009: The Congo-Uganda joint offensive against the LRA has failed to nab LRA commander Joseph Kony. Ugandan Army (UPDF) “underestimated” the size of Kony’s forces inside Congo. Based on the LR movements since mid-December, it also appears that the LRA had prepared plans to withdraw from a large-scale Ugandan attack on its camps inside Congo, with the Central Africa Republic (CAR) a possible refuge.

January 16, 2009: The LRA has conducted a series of vicious attacks on towns and villages in the Congo. Since January 1, LRA fighters have also attacked several villages in South Sudan. The Congolese government claims at least 500 Congolese citizens have been killed by the LRA since mid-December, when the “joint” Congo-Uganda counter-LRA offensive began.

 

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