Uganda Peoples Congress
Uganda Peoples Congress
Closure Of IDP Camps Should Be Properly Managed.
- In principle, the Uganda Peoples Congress welcomes the decision to close the IDP camps and resettle the hundreds of thousands of affected Ugandans to their former homes. As UPC has pointed out on diverse occasions over the last two decades, these camps were not necessary. The tragedy of the camps was the result of the NRM government's undemocratic and militaristic policies.
- However, the implementation of the decision to close or decongest the camps gives rise to very serious concerns which, if not urgently addressed will undermine the whole process and lead to other forms of disasters.
- In the first instance, the UPC is not convinced by the reasons given by the Government or more specifically the UPDF for the non-closure of the IDP camps in the Acholi sub-region. Time and again we have been told that the war is over and that there are only a few rebel remnants remaining. Why can't the UPDF offer adequate security to the people of Acholi in the villages?
- UPC suspects that there are ulterior motives by the government not to close the Acholi camps. It appears that the NRM wants to continue punishing the Acholi people for leading the opposition against the NRM undemocratic rule. The discrimination against the people of Acholi and apparent policy to isolate and destroy them must stop.
- The other issue that is cause for concern is the role of the UPDF in this entire resettlement exercise. Although there exists on paper a Joint Country and Monitoring Committee to oversee the resettlement, actual implementation has been left to the UPDF. That is why all public discourse on the matter on behalf of government has been by Major Kulayigye, the UPDF spokesman.
- Even the least concerned person knows the record of UPDF in managing public resources. The UPDF is not renowned for prudent management of resources. Rather it is famous for dubious purchases and payments like of junk helicopters, rotten food, undersized uniforms, theft of soldiers' salaries and allowances and gross human rights abuses. To entrust the management of resettlement funds and materials to this discredited UPDF is the surest way of creating another Global Fund circus. Already, there are reports that most of the iron sheets distributed in Teso and Lango are back on the market in Kampala.
- According to press reports, the people being resettled will be given seeds for planting, iron sheets, utensils and food for six months. Even assuming that these items are distributed they cannot of themselves enable people to resettle in their former villages that are now overgrown bushes. The timing is terribly wrong.
- For orderly and meaningful resettlement to take place the economic and social infrastructure of the region must be replanned and worked on. In particular the following must be urgently attended to: -
- Security must be guaranteed by requesting the African Union to deploy a peace keeping force in the affected areas.
- Roads to all villages must be re-opened.
- Health facilities in all sub-counties must be re-opened, built and facilitated.
- Schools in all villages that were vandalized must be rebuilt.
- Urban centres must be rebuilt.
- Farming tools including bush clearing equipment must be distributed.
- Mechanisms to amicably settle land disputes must be put in place.
- Counselling services must be put in place.
- These entire economic and social infrastructures cannot be put in place and managed by the inept UPDF. There is need for more superior organization and management.
- The UPC demands that: -
- The government should urgently introduce in Parliament a Bill to create an autonomous Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission to manage and oversee the implementation of the resettlement exercise. Members of this commission should be drawn from all stakeholders including government, the opposition political Parties, civil society, religious organizations, and leaders from the affected areas. The actual management of the resettlement and rehabilitation exercise under the oversight of the Commission should be left in the hands of professional cadre of interdisciplinary experts. There should be no political interference in the work of the experts.
- The camps in the Acholi sub-region that are most dehumanizing should be closed as a matter of priority. The affected people have suffered far too long.
- The UPC appeals to all Ugandans, the East African Community, the African Union, the United Nations and all peace loving persons to support its demands for ending one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world.
For God and my Country
Miria Kalule Obote
Plot 8 -10 Kampala Road, Uganda House, P.O. Box 9206 Kampala, Phone/Fax: +256-41-236748