Uganda Peoples Congress

UPC Salutes Resettlement of IDP

From EVELYN LIRRI, The Monitor Newspaper, April 19, 2006

THE Uganda Peoples Congress has welcomed the government's move to return thousands of internally displaced persons back to their villages. The party President, Ms Miria Obote, however, warned that the resettlement should be adequately addressed correctly, "because it could undermine the whole process and lead to other forms of disasters.

"UPC welcomes the decision to close the IDP camps and resettle the affected Ugandans to their former homes," Miria said. This was during the weekly party press briefing at the party headquarters at Uganda House in Kampala yesterday.

Miria said to effectively implement the resettlement exercise, the government should create an autonomous resettlement and rehabilitation commission to manage and oversee the exercise. Involve stakeholders She said members of the commission should be drawn from all stakeholders including the government, opposition political parties, civil society, religious and leaders from the affected region.

On Sunday, the army announced that IDPs would start returning to their homes this week, after 20 years of living in camps under squalid conditions. The announcement, however, drew a mixed reaction.

Area MPs strongly opposed the move, relief agencies urged caution while some of the affected IDPs said they won't return unless their security is guaranteed. Currently an estimated 1.6 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the Joseph Kony led insurgency in the northern region. According to the army, the resettlement exercise would begin with displaced persons in the Lango and Teso sub-regions.

Acholi region not safe

Army spokesman Maj. Felix Kulayigye, said the resettlement would not extend to the Acholi sub region because "there are a few rebel remnants."

However, UPC said it is not convinced by the reasons given by the army for the non-closure of IDP camps in the Acholi sub- region. "Time and again we have been told that the war is over and that there are only few rebel remnants. Why can't the UPDF offer adequate security to the people of Acholi in the villages?" Miria asked. "UPC suspects there are hidden motives by the government not to close the Acholi camps"

She said: "It appears the government wants to continue punishing the Acholi people for leading the opposition against the NRM government. This discrimination against the people of Acholi must stop."

Miria said because the camps in the Acholi sub-region are the most dehumanising, they should be closed as a matter of priority, saying the affected people have suffered for too long.