Civil society groups have called for world pressure on parties of the conflict in Northern Uganda to resume peace talks, following the collapse of a ceasefire deal last Friday.
Over 1.6 million people have been displaced in the 18 year dispute between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government. Twenty thousand children are believed to have been kidnapped in order to stock the LRA with fighters, porters and sex slaves.
The Ugandan army claimed to have intercepted a radio order by the LRA's leader ordering attacks on refugee camps. The collapse of negotiations, for reasons that have not been disclosed by mediators, led to the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveri ordering the resumption of military action against the rebels.
Amma Naylor of Oxfam told the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks 'After 18 years of fighting, we have to face the fact that the so-called military solution is a pipe dream. But even if it were possible, we must never forget that the overwhelming majority of LRA fighters are abducted children. A military solution means killing these children.
'The attention of the international community needs to be given to Uganda. If not, then we will return to full-scale war in northern Uganda.'
The Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda are calling for the talks to be given more time. Their statement said:'It has been a decade since the last real peace talks were held. The people of northern Uganda cannot live with another 10 years of appalling suffering. We must make this peace process work'
QPSW has maintained a presence in Northern Uganda throughout the conflict. A factsheet on its work and more on the situation is available at:http://www.quaker.org.uk/peace/build.html
First published in The Friend, 14 January 2005