I last met with President Museveni on 20 November 2006. During this meeting we discussed northern Uganda and President Museveni updated me on the peace talks that are taking place in Juba between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
DFID and Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff hold regular discussions with the Government of Uganda on a range of issues that include the talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army. Most recently the British high commissioner to Uganda and the Head of the DFID Office in Uganda met with President Museveni on 10 May 2007. He reconfirmed his support for the Juba peace process. In all of our discussions with the Government of Uganda on northern Uganda we emphasise the importance of dialogue as essential to resolving the conflict. The UK has provided £250,000 to a UN fund set up to support the talks and we have made it clear that we will do more if necessary.
Accurate data on the number of Acholi people who have been murdered are not available, although UN reports do suggest that incidents of violence in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) affecting parts of northern Uganda have fallen dramatically since peace talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda began in July 2006.
Accurate data on the number of Acholi people who have been raped are also not available. Many women and girls do not come forward and say that they have been raped because of the stigma involved, and the practical problems associated with reporting such incidents. However the risk of sexual and gender based violence is high. As part of our humanitarian assistance, DFID has provided approximately £2 million to UNICEF and Save the Children over the last two financial years for their programmes to protect women and children in the North. Communities have also stressed the importance of a police presence in tackling issues of sexual and gender based violence. In response we are providing £700,000 from the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool funds in support of a plan to strengthen civilian policing in the North.
DFID is working closely with the Government of Uganda and others to support the collection of accurate information in conflict-affected areas of northern Uganda, to fully understand the impact of the conflict, and to ensure that humanitarian assistance is targeted towards the greatest needs.
In July 2005 DFID supported a Uganda Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation led survey that measured crude mortality rates in northern Uganda. This found that the crude mortality rate in northern Uganda was 1.54 deaths per 10,000 people per day. A crude mortality rate of over 1.0 per 10,000 a day is considered an emergency. As a direct response we have provided over £37 million in humanitarian assistance over the last two years, including £9.6 million in support of a UN programme aimed at tackling some of the main causes of death, including malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infection. There is strong anecdotal evidence that mortality has fallen but a repeat survey will be carried out before the end of the year to check that this is the case.