Uganda: Rate of Death in Northern Uganda Is Three Times Higher Than in Iraq - New Report

press release

The  current  rate  of death from the war in northern Uganda is three times higher  than  in  Iraq  following  the  Allied invasion, finds a new report released  today.  The release of the report comes as the UN Under-Secretary General  Jan  Egeland holds high-level meetings in Kampala with the Ugandan government  and  other international representatives to address the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda.

The   report   by   a   coalition   of  over  50  leading  non-governmental organisations,  Civil  Society  Organisations  for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU),  reveals  new  facts and figures showing the brutal impact of the conflict  between  the Government of Uganda and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army   on   the   civilian   population.   The   coalition  includes  Oxfam International,  Care  International,  Norwegian  Refugee  Council, Save the Children  and  International  Rescue  Committee  as  well  as  national and community based organisations.

Almost two million people have been displaced by the conflict. A staggering 25,000  children  have been abducted during 20 years of war. One quarter of children  in  northern  Uganda  over  ten  years  old have lost one or both parents.

The  National  Programme  Coordinator,  Uganda Child Rights NGO Network and Chairperson  of CSOPNU, Stella Ayo-Odongo said: "Northern Uganda is one of the  world's  worst war zones. The violent death rate in northern Uganda is three  times  higher  than in Iraq. It is tragedy of the worst proportions. This conflict cannot be allowed to fester any longer. A peaceful resolution of this conflict must be found."

The  report,  "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda" shows the  devastating  economic cost of the war estimated at US$1.7 billion (GBP £1bn)  over  the  course of the last two decades. This is equivalent to the USA's  total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002 and is the double the UK's average  annual  bilateral  gross  public expenditure on aid to Uganda from 1994  to  2001.   The  average  annual  cost  of the war to Uganda is US$85 million.

Kathy Relleen, Oxfam's Policy Advisor in Uganda, said that twenty years was enough:  "The  Ugandan  Government,  the  rebel  army and the international community must fully acknowledge the true scale and horror of the situation in  northern  Uganda",  said Relleen. "Twenty years of brutal violence is a scar  on  the  world's  conscience.  The  government  of  Uganda  must  act resolutely and without delay, both to guarantee the effective protection of civilians and to work with all sides to secure a just and lasting peace."

Kevin  Fitzcharles,  Director, Care International said: "UN Under-Secretary General Egeland is clearly pushing the Security Council to act, yet none of his  recommendations  are  being  implemented.  It is time for the Security Council  to  recognise that its failure to address this crisis is a scar on its  record  and  undermines  its credibility. The UN must act by passing a resolution urging the Government of Uganda to protect its own people."

CSOPNU  is  calling  upon  all  parties  involved  to take up Jan Egeland's challenge  and  to  act decisively. The coalition is urging the UN Security Council  to adopt Egeland's recommendation to appoint a panel of experts to investigate  the  activities  of  the  LRA. The appointment of a high level envoy  to reinvigorate peace efforts, address all aspects of the crisis and report  back  to  the  UN  Security  Council  on progress has also received widespread support though as yet no action has been taken.

Despite  the  scale  of  the  crisis and its huge impact on the region, the Secretary  General  has not yet been publicly engaged.  A recent meeting in Geneva  offered hope for a comprehensive plan of action on the conflict but urgent  action  to  make  this plan a reality is needed. Benchmarks must be established  to  enable  the Government of Uganda to show clear progress in monitoring  peace,  protecting  the civilian population, and addressing the humanitarian  crisis.  Egeland's  visit  to Uganda raises hope for concrete action to address this devastating crisis.

Key figures from "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in northern Uganda":

Rates of violent death in northern Uganda are three times higher than those reported  in Iraq following the Allied Invasion in 2003. (The violent death rate for northern Uganda is currently at 146 deaths per week, (0.17 violent deaths per 10,000 people per day). This is three times higher than in Iraq, where  the  incidence  of  violent death in the period following the allied invasion was estimated to be 0.052 per 10,000 people per day.

20 years of conflict have had a devastating impact on children.

25,000 children have been abducted during the course of the war. 41 per cent of all deaths in the camps are amongst children under 5. 250,000 children in northern Uganda receive no education, despite Uganda's policy of universal primary education.  An estimated 1,000 children have been born in LRA captivity to girls abducted by the rebel army. At the times of heightened insecurity up to 45,000 children "night commute" each evening and sleep in streets or makeshift shelters in town centres to avoid being abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The  World  Food  Programme  (WFP)  currently  delivers  food to 84% of all households  that  are dependent on food aid. Almost 50 per cent of children are stunted due to malnutrition in the Kitgum area.

The  economic  cost  of the war to Uganda after 20 years is $1.7 billion (£ 1bn). This  is  the  equivalent  of: Double the UK's gross bilateral public expenditure  on  aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2001 OR the USA's total aid to Uganda between 1994 and 2002

The annual cost of the war to Uganda is $85 million. This is the equivalent of:

The cost of providing clean, safe drinking water to 3.5 million people per year, or the total population of Liberia Uganda's total annual income from coffee exports The entire budget of the World Bank's five-year Northern Uganda Social Action Fund


The  report  draws on statistics gathered during the last year. In the last three to four months northern Uganda has experienced more calm yet with the rains  now  fully  upon  us, the usual fear of increased rebel activity and violence is returning.

The  report  describes northern Uganda as a catastrophe fuelled by terrible acts  of  war  and  violence  and  by  a  shameful  litany of failure -- the continuing  failure  of  the  LRA  to cease its brutal campaign of violence against civilians, and the failure of both the Government of Uganda and the international  community  to  uphold  their legal obligations to secure the protection,  security,  and  peace  of the civilians of northern Uganda. It recommends that:

The LRA must immediately cease attacks on, and abductions of, civilians and aid workers and show clear commitment to peace. The Government of Uganda must take make the protection of civilians its first priority and take immediate, concrete action to guarantee the protection of its citizens and also commit to resolving this conflict peacefully The UN Security Council must act resolutely and without delay to guarantee the protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance in northern Uganda.

REPORT - Counting the Cost: Twenty years of war in northern Uganda

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