Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why is this site not up-dated?

Due to technical difficulties, SHRA is not able to up-date this blog for the time being. Still, all organisational information found on the page is valid - so don't hesitate to contact us. SHRA apologizes for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Uganda remembers refugees

In commemoration of the World Refugee Day, June 20, 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister, International Medical Corps and National Geographic society yesterday organised a photo exhibition for refugee children at the Uganda National Museum. The two hours occasion which attracted viewers from government ministries and NGO representatives, was aimed at celebrating the lives of refugees worldwide.

Celebrated two days earlier than the actual date, the photo exhibition dubbed ‘Through the Eyes of Children; Life as a Refugee in Uganda,’ was a culmination of a project started in November 2006 in Kyaka II refugee settlement-Kyenjojo district, where youth were trained in photojournalism. While representing their colleagues from the settlement Owizeye Joyce, 18, and Michel Nzimpa, 15, exuded hope for the future as they optimistically trusted the skills they attained in photo shooting.

Prominent delegates at the function included the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Tarsis Kabwegyere, the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations (UNHCR Geneva) and many NGO representatives. A performance from the Burundian dance troupe climaxed the day’s event.

In the photo above, guests view the photos displayed by refugee children at the Uganda National Museum.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WFP suspends operations in Northeastern Uganda

The U.N. World Food Programme has temporarily suspended operations in the drought-hit area of North-eastern Uganda after gunmen ambushed a WFP convoy and killed the agency’s driver. Richard Achuka, 41, was shot in the neck and shoulder and died after the attack on four WFP trucks in Kotido district. The convoy had delivered food to schools and other sites in Kaabong district. The attackers fled the scene.

The WFP Country Director, Tesema Negash strongly condemned the vicious attack on a clearly marked WFP humanitarian convoy and demanded that the killers be pursued and brought to justice. He then declared a temporary suspension of WFP activities in the region until security is improved.

The agency started distributing food to half a million people in Karamoja, an area hit by a third drought in six years, in January 2007. The region is the poorest in Uganda and has a single rainy season from June to August: almost 70 percent of its inhabitants, nomadic pastoralists, receive aid. Read more here

The photo taken by Global Action on Aging shows an elderly man in his mud-wattle house in Northeastern Uganda.

Bush imposes new sanctions on Sudan

The Associated Press today reported that in a plan B aimed at pressurizing the Sudan government to end bloodshed and wide spread violence in the Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur, the U.S. president George. W. Bush has ordered new U.S. economic sanctions.

The sanctions target government-run companies involved in Sudan’s oil industry, and three individuals, including a rebel leader suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur.

Bush had prepared to impose the sanctions last month, but held off to give U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon more time to find a diplomatic end to the four-year crisis in which more than 200,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced.

Beyond the new U.S sanctions, Bush directed Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice to draft a proposed U.N. resolution to strengthen international pressure on the Sudanese government of President Omar Al-Bashir.

However, the Sudan government criticized Bush’s action; Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman Ali Sadiq told the Associated Press that the decision was unfair and untimely, and urged the rest of the world to ignore the U.S move. Read more here

International day for U.N. Peacekeepers

Tuesday May 29 2007 marked five years since the international day of United Nations Peacekeepers was designated to pay tribute to the forces around the globe: U.N. Peacekeepers day was established in 2002, when the General Assembly adopted Resolution 57/129 which selected May 29 (the day the first UN Peacekeepers operation was established in 1948).

Since 1948, UN Peacekeepers have undertaken 61 field missions, negotiated 172 peaceful settlements that have ended regional conflicts, and enabled people in more than 45 countries to participate in free and fair elections. In recent years UN Peacekeeping operations have expanded considerably and there are now approximately 83,000 military and police personnel deployed in 18 UN Peacekeeping operations world wide. Today’s UN Peacekeepers have difficult and often complex missions in some of the world’s most dangerous places: Sudan, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Haiti.

For more, click here

UN Peacekeepers on patrol in the DRC. Photo by Refugees International

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

South Sudan remembers Martyrs

May 16 of every year holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of South Sudan - on the Southern Sudanese calendar, this is a public holiday, a day souls of the departed freedom fighters who perished during the liberation movement are remembered. Today the marginalised Sudanese all over the world join in unity to remember and mourn the departed souls.

Special tribute is paid to these liberators who fought to break the bondage of suppression, repression and wide spread marginalization by the Arab dominated Khartoum government against the Christian animists of South Sudan. Today, the region reveres in the prospects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which has its roots in the 1983 – 2004 strife.

Among those remembered are Kuanyin Bol, Arjok Akuom and Yosuf Kier Tang who survived arrest by the Nimeiri regime as the perpetrators of the 1983 mutiny, William Nyuon Captain David Riek, Arok Thon Arok , Martin Manyiel Ayuel, Francis Ngor and the unforgettable Dr. John Garang among others. All these departed personalities relentlessly served in various capacities to restore the dignity of the people of South Sudan. Right now, hopes are hinged on Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army leadership and partners in progress to continue the struggle in the fight for peace, justice, equality and development for all the Sudanese.

In the photo taken by AFP is Dr. John Garang giving instructions, with fellow SPLA soldiers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

EP mid-term review kicks off

The evaluation process for the progress of the Education for Peace, repatriation and development project for Northern Uganda and South Sudan has started with the Sudan Human Rights Association being visited first. The three year programme which runs till mid 2008 is in its mid-term stages and a team comprised of the MS-Uganda Programme Officer, Emmanuel Misaka together with an external consultant, Sarah Okwaare are to engage the three partner organisations directly implementing the project – Education Access for Africa (EAA), Needs Service Education Agency (NSEA) and Sudan Human Rights Association (SHRA), with the latter having been visited on Monday 14 May 2007. The evaluation team is due to visit EAA and NSEA in Adjumani and Koboko districts respectively sometime this week.

In a four hour meeting held yesterday between SHRA staff and the evaluation team, a lot of experience sharing was exchanged between the hosts and the visitors; the evaluation team was more than pleased to learn that SHRA is on the right track as far as training paralegals is concerned. With the Northern Uganda phase complete according to the organizational work plan, the remaining project areas which are in South Sudan are still facing a major impediment of delay in registration in the region.

In the photo is Sarah on the left, Emmanuel on the right and SHRA’s Geoffrey Mudawa at the extreme of the table in yesterday’s meeting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sudan Softens on UN Peacekeeping Force

On Monday, 16. March. 2007, the Khartoum government finally accepted the intervention of the United Nations peacekeeping force to bolster efforts of the beleaguered African Union peacekeeping team, that has struggled to keep calm in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

The deployment includes U.N. attack helicopters and 3,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, the first time the Khartoum government has allowed a significant injection of U.N. forces to help African troops after long running months of pushing for the international peacekeepers to be allowed in the region. Click here

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thumbs Up for Paralegals

George Tumuramye
Assistant Settlement Commandant
Imvepi Refugee Settlement - Yumbe District

"These paralegals are doing a big job and this has resulted into reduction of the crime rate - we used to have uncountable defilement and domestic violence cases. Their sensitization has done a lot. Except that there are some cases that are beyond their control like people’s erratic behaviour, especially drunkards. For example, between October and November 2006 in point J, we had a total of eight defilement cases. We took a team of paralegals to sensitise the community against this evil and this did help curb down the crime in this area. This was in coordination with the Community Facilitators, Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR officials. Since Sudan Human Rights Association taught us about human rights, people are now much aware of their rights. Paralegals have done a lot, the settlement is now calm and we would like them to continue doing such a great job. We would like them to have more skills in handling minor cases and not always involve police in every case. They should practice a lot, because we will not be with them in Sudan. As an officer, I advocate for more trainings and have the paralegals identified to the community."

South Sudan: Rebels Threaten Food Security

A recently published report by both the USAID and Famine Early Warning System Network indicates that the sporadic LRA rebel attacks on civilian populations in South Sudan pose a threat to food production in the region, writes Irin News.

The attacks, which intensified after talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA stalled in January, have left 3,500 people displaced in Torit County since February, said the report published by USAID and the Famine Early Warning System Network. "Civil insecurity has grown in Central and Eastern Equatoria states," the report states. "The LRA abandoned the talks and retreated to the Central African Republic (CAR), attacking and looting communities, including parts of Magwi, Kajokeji, Yambio, Tambura and Torit counties, as they fled."

The food security report also noted that while the situation had improved in northern parts of southern Sudan, it was likely to deteriorate as the April/May to August hunger season progresses. This would particularly affect poor and recently resettled households in areas affected by civil insecurity, cattle raiding and where population resettlement is significant. For full article, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leader's views on paralegal work

Jena Tuma Assistant Settlement Commandant
Madi-Okollo Refugee Settlement - Arua District

"Since the Sudan Human Rights Association started trainings in 2005, the paralegals have been doing their job. This is experienced in the sense that we now receive few cases in our office. People are even aware of their rights. The selection of paralegals from leadership structures like the Refugee Welfare Councils, Opinion leaders, Women and Youth leaders has helped much since these use their capacity to carry out sensitization human rights related issues - every time they meet, they do sensitisations. For instance before the trainings, people did not know that getting a travel permit was their right but now people are flocking our office seeking for travel permits.
As a recommendation to SHRA, the paralegals should be introduced to the community and also given identification kits like T-shirts. Also, if the organization would consider doing additional training on conflict transformation and psychosocial issues, these two are very important topics in our community. The major problem we are facing is that with the realization of peace in South Sudan, many have gradually repatriated, and it is no surprise that at the moment we are only left with not more than 10 paralegals."

Friday, April 6, 2007

Cash-strapped WFP: Crisis Around the Corner?

World Food Program (WFP) Uganda is in dire need of additional funding. In order to maintain the food pipeline in Uganda for refugees, IDPs, schools and hospitals, the agency needs $131 millions for 2007. As of today, it has only received around $44 millions. This means that effectively the programme will seize to distribute food by the end of June.

The lack of funding seems to follow a general pattern in which donors prefer to allocate resources to IDPs rather than to refugees - and to focus on other areas than Uganda.

The shortage is bound to hit all groups of beneficiaries - including Ugandan schools linked to the "Food for Education" program. Evidently, this will be difficult to explain to the refugee community; SHRA monitors have already recorded voices in the Sudanese dominated settlements in Northern Uganda claiming that it is in fact a deliberate policy by the Government, UNHCR and WFP aimed at speeding up the voluntary repatriation process by removing the food support. SHRA follows the situation closely.
Photo: Soon a thing of the past? WFP food piles up in Nakivale Settlement, Western Uganda.

Enough: The Way Forward in Darfur

Enough! is a joint initiative of the Center for American Progress and the International Crisis Group to abolish genocide and mass atrocities. It employs a "3P" strategy aimed at promoting durable Peace efforts; providing Protection for innocent victims of mass atrocities; and ensuring Punishment of the perpetrators to break the circle of impunity. The project focuses on Eastern Congo, Northern Uganda and Darfur. Read more about Enough! here.

For an interesting approach to the Darfur-crisis, see John Prendergast, The Answer to Darfur - How to Resolve the World's Hottest War (International Crisis Group: Strategy Paper 1, March 2007). The paper is available at the Enough Project's website.

SHRA President visits Uganda

The President of SHRA, Mr. Hammad, is visiting Uganda over Easter. During his stay he will meet representatives from funding agencies, co-operating partners and staff at SHRA. The stop-over in Kampala is the last in a tour which has also included Sudan. Mr. Hammad returns to Canada Sunday.

The pic shows Mr. Hammad (L) during an informal meeting with SHRA Human Rights Advisor, Mr. Thorning (C) and Secretary General, Mr. El-Gahdi (R).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Returnees testify about life in Yei after exile

Grace Senya, 24 years:
Spontaneous returnee from Rhino Camp in Northern Uganda

Grace revealed to SHRA monitors that she is married with three children; her first born is six years old. Unfortunate circumstances forced her to repatriate back to Sudan last year; she had come to attend her brother’s burial but after failing to raise transport back to her settlement camp, she decided to stay. Her family fled the country in 1990 and she has been in Uganda since then. Since she was not entitled to a repatriation package as a spontaneous returnee, she had to eke out a living for herself. She now does odd jobs like carrying water for brick layers - each jerry fetches her 200 Uganda shillings (0.2$). The husband equally does manual work to support the family. He builds for people and burns firewood for charcoal.

Grace’s small family is currently occupying clan land. She says this has been hard for her since her father-in-law has a natural dislike for her. While she is entitled to a small portion of the clan land, where she cultivates, she lacks farming implements. However, by the time SHRA staff were leaving, the Mugwo Payam Administrator, Joseph Sebit Kojiba, had asked her to pass by his office and pick up two hoes.

Peter Bidale:
Returnee from Camp II in Congo under organised repatriation (November 2006)

Peter revealed to SHRA monitors that ever since he returned home, he has been depending on his grandfather for survival. At the time of his arrival, he had three children but one died early this year. He said his repatriation package from the UNHCR included food rations that were anticipated to take him for three months including sorghum, sugar and non-food items like cups, plates, bucket and jerry can. After three months, he ran out of the food rations with barely anything to feed on but was later supplemented with provision for one month as an emergency from the UNHCR.

At the moment, his two surviving children have not started school yet due to lack of school fees. He is now settling on the grandfather’s land in Yei, which is the place he registered with UNHCR, but he is actually from Abukaya village. He confessed that he does not have intentions of going to his original village. Peter cited reasons of not going back as having no idea of his people given the fact that he grew up in exile and that he has heard rumours of people in his village practicing witchcraft. He added that while in his country of asylum, he faced a lot of problems especially at the hands of the Congolese army who used to terrorise the refugees.

Monday, March 12, 2007

SHRA Team to Yei, South Sudan

SHRA yesterday sent 2 field officers to Yei, South Sudan. Over the next 5 days they will assess the human rights situation and living conditions of both returned refugees and others in and around the main town of Central Equatorial Province. The assessment focuses primarily on the general security situation, food security and peoples' access to water and sanitation, education and health services. The SHRA team comprises of Programme Co-ordinator Eiyo Margaret and Information Officer Natugasha Maclean.

The picture is from a similar mission to Western Uganda last year.

Friday, March 9, 2007

UNHCR Resumes Repatriation

In a statement released by UNHCR, the agency informs that the repatriation process of refugees from Northern Uganda to South Sudan resumed this week. It was halted for some time due to the meningitis epidemic. A 13-truck convoy carrying around 300 refugees left Imvepi Settlement, Arua District, for Yei in the Central Equatorial Province last Tuesday. The statement also reads that approximately 27.000 refugees have volunteered to return to their homes in Southern Sudan since the process was initiated in May, 2006.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Mid-Term Evaluation of EP

MS-Uganda has decided to carry out a mid-term evaluation of the Education for Peace Project, which has SHRA as one of its implementing partners. Read the Terms of Reference (draft) for the evaluation here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ex-LRA fighter found in Ikafe Refugee Settlement

On Saturday 24, February 2007, as a refugee woman went about her business in the nearby bush within the Ikafe refugee settlement - Yumbe district (Northwestern Uganda), she stumbled on a young girl taking a nap on bare ground. What started as Samaritan move for the refugee woman, resulted into a realisation that the young girl was a former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel, fleeing captivity.

She was later taken in to the Officer in Charge of Ikafe police post, who later called in the Yumbe district Police Constable. SHRA staff had an opportunity of interviewing the girl before she was taken to the district police station. Mary Konga-nee name, was captured in 2002 in Mungulu area-Adjumani district, where she had been taken to babysit her Auntie's child. Since then, the world took a horrible turn for her. She was forced into early marriage to a rebel commander with whom she bore a son with. She was also forced to drop her nee name for Mariamu Annet as a ritual for all captives. The memories she has of her captivity was living by the gun, terrorising villages when sent on mission.

Mary says, she saw the peace talks as an opportunity to return to her mother and father, who by the time of her capture lived in Yumbe, but as of now does not know where they are. The disappointment came when, they were ordered to reorganise and relocate by the LRA top commanders. She seized this opportunity to flee captivity; living all she had behind - including her only son, she run away in the night with only a hand grenade as a weapon. She says her journey had taken her roughly five days - where she walked in the night, and rested during the day. At the time of SHRA's visit, the settlement authorities were awaiting the District Police Constable to take her for further protection and interrogation.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Meningitis Stops SHRA in West Nile

SHRA today had to postpone the rest of its planned activities in West Nile and Adjumani. The Health authorities of Moyo and Adjumani Districts have imposed tough measures in the effort to contain the ongoing meningitis epidemic in northern Uganda. Schools are closed, church services reduced and people are not allowed to gather for more than one hour at a maximum of 10 individuals. SHRA understands the need for these measures and will return to finish the program when the situation has normalised.

The pic is from the ceremony in Rhino Camp, Arua District.