NGOs unite in call for patience, persistence to salvage Northern Uganda’s peace process
As Ugandan civil society leaders meet to clarify transitional justice mechanisms in advance of their scheduled May 10 meeting with Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, NGOs from around the world, including the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, have united in a message of support for local efforts to salvage the peace process to end northern Uganda’s 22-year war. They are calling for patient and persistent engagement to ensure that humanitarian progress achieved during the Juba negotiations is sustained.
“Over one million displaced northern Ugandans continue to face the difficult task of trying to create a life in the absence of peace and in fear of a return to violence,” says the statement released today by more than 30 humanitarian, faith-based and civil society organizations. “Recent developments have made it clear that all efforts must now be aimed at salvaging the Final Peace Agreement.”
“These courageous local leaders who continue trekking back into the jungle to salvage this peace agreement deserve our support,” says Michael Poffenberger, executive director of Resolve Uganda, a D.C.-based advocacy organization. “They have established direct dialogue with rebel leaders after months of silence, keeping hope alive that the agreement can still be signed.”
“A failure to secure the peace and resort to a ‘military solution’ would trigger renewed fears of insecurity and threaten the considerable progress made on the ground in northern Uganda,” according to the global NGO statement.
“The Juba agreements provide a framework to address historical grievances, promote reconciliation across Ugandan society and establish accountability for crimes committed during the war,” says Michael Otim, director of Gulu NGO Forum. “This peace process is not just about dealing with the LRA, but also how to restore the government’s relationship with the people of northern Uganda.”
“Moving forward from here, the priorities for the people of northern Uganda include the provision of basic services and investment in livelihoods to enable those affected by the conflict to return to their villages and live without fear and insecurity,” says Savio Carvalho, Oxfam GB country director. Oxfam is a steering committee member of Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda, a 78-member coalition in Uganda that signed the statement.
“The international community has a key role to play in ensuring that mechanisms for recovery are implemented immediately,” says Lotte Graubelle, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in Uganda. “People on the ground are not focused on the phases of international response. They need assistance now that will help them get on with their lives.”
“International fatigue and cynicism are to be expected after such a setback, but the solution is not to cut and run,” says Peter Quaranto, Resolve Uganda’s senior researcher. “International persistence to uphold the peace process, ensure civilian protection across the region and limit the LRA’s exit options is more crucial now than ever.”
Resolve Uganda is a U.S. based coalition of humanitarian, faith-based and human rights organizations advocating for the international leadership necessary to end to the 22-year crisis in northern Uganda.