The Ugandan House of Bishops last week issued a statement calling for the immediate end to violence in Northern Uganda after the Most Revd Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, led the bishops on a tour of the region to witness the situation at first hand.
The statement said that children were being forced to fight in the 18-year-old insurgency for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and “were dying in large numbers.” They added that the rebellion had claimed thousands of lives, displaced a million people and spread fear throughout the region. The LRA is a quasi-religious rebel group that insists it wants Uganda to be governed solely by the Ten Commandments. It is led by Joseph Kony who claims to have spiritual powers.
Referring to recent violence in Barlonyo camp, in which 200 people were reportedly killed, the bishops’ statement said that the government of Uganda and the LRA had to recommit themselves to dialogue and reconciliation. They called on the Ugandan government to protect civilians living in camps and in conflict-hit areas.
The bishops also visited Pabbo camp in Gulu district and appealed for urgent humanitarian support from the international community saying that the displaced people lacked basic means to support their livelihoods. “We shall also mobilise the congregations of the Church of Uganda to support and work with leaders in the affected areas, and the government and the international community to find a lasting solution to the conflict,” the bishops said.
The 15 bishops were accompanied by the General Secretary of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), staff of the Provincial Office and representatives from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and the Uganda Christian University.
Article By Justus Waimiri in Nairobi