29 August 2006

Emergency Relief Coordinator Welcomes Cessation of Hostilities between Uganda, Lord's Resistance Army

NEW YORK, 28 August (OCHA) -- Welcoming the signing on Saturday of an official cessation of hostilities between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said, "I am pleased to hear of this important step forward in the ongoing peace talks.  I urge both parties to continue the positive momentum."

The brutal 20-year conflict between the Government and the Lord's Resistance Army has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, 2 million people displaced, and 25,000 children abducted and forced into military service.  A July 2005 United Nations-supported survey estimated that more than 1,000 people die from disease or violence in northern Uganda every week.  The conflict has had a disproportionate impact on children:  not only are they more vulnerable to malnutrition and easily preventable opportunistic diseases, but over the years tens of thousands have been forced to travel long distances, seeking overnight shelter in towns to protect themselves against insecurity.  However, in recent months, there has been an improvement in the security situation and a reduction in the number of night commuters.

"I have consistently described the situation in northern Uganda as the world's worst neglected emergency since my first mission there in November 2003.  Now, with the assistance of the Government of South Sudan, we have a real chance to make progress; this is the greatest hope for sustainable peace that we have had in quite some time", Mr. Egeland said.

The agreement signed today is hoped to be a step towards a comprehensive peace agreement that would allow the people of northern Uganda and southern Sudan to once again enjoy peace and stability and return to their homes.  The Emergency Relief Coordinator also urged the LRA to release immediately all abducted women and children as a sign of goodwill.  "The humanitarian community stands ready to assist these women and children in their return and reintegration.  Their immediate release would send a positive message to the international community that the LRA is serious about a peaceful resolution of the conflict."

The cessation of hostilities is expected to enter into force as of 0600 hours local time on Tuesday, 29 August.

For further information, please call:  Kristen Knutson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)-New York, tel.:  +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, tel.:  +41 22 917 2653, mobile:  +41 79 473 4570.  OCHA press releases are available at  or .

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