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.