World Vision says inaction in Uganda hurting children

By October 27, 2004

Uganda (MNN) — Global indifference has fuelled one of the world’s most protracted, cruel and bloody humanitarian crises, a new report into the 18-year conflict raging in Northern Uganda. For more than 15 years, over 20,000 children have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced into bondage as child soldiers, sex slaves and weapons porters.

The report compiled by World Vision “Pawns of Politics: children, conflict and peace in Northern Uganda” highlights the need for co-operation at the local level, at the national level in both Uganda and Sudan, and for concerted action from the international community.

The report reveals the impact of the 18-year conflict on Northern Uganda including new research that shows HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in conflict-affected areas are almost double the national average and rising.

World Vision reports the conflict has cost the country more than U.S. $1.3 billion and is currently costing more than U.S. $100 million per year. More than 1.6 million people, including eighty percent of the northern region’s population are homeless, living in displacement camps that are squalid and cramped. Malnutrition rates among displaced children range from 7- 21 percent, and an average of 1,052-15,000 people share a single water source.

World Vision’s Program Officer for Uganda, Keren Winterford, says this was a tragic struggle for power involving children, who are used as pawns for military and political purposes. Winterford says, “These children are abused; and manipulated. They are forced to kill and are killed themselves. There is a lost generation of children and young people to this conflict. In spite of good intentions and laws to protect children from abuse, these children’s security and basic rights are not met.”

“The protracted nature of this conflict has created a humanitarian crisis that is among the world’s worst and it’s time the international community put a stop to this,” Winterford continued.

World Vision asks that the Australian government considers providing immediate humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of Ugandans displaced by the conflict, including former child soldiers who may have extreme physical and mental scars.

World Vision is reaching out in Jesus name to help those affected mentally and physically.

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