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Death and Suffering

 article about Death and Suffering
The fireworks for the end of the year in this part of the world: bullet fire and smoke.

By Peter Worogga Wadri. Kampala-Uganda

The Arab world and many other countries for reasons of religion, culture and tradition choose not to honor the day of December 25th or take it on a later date. However, many across the world did celebrate the season's date, coupled with the world's appreciation toward the American-led coalition forces in Iraq for the smoking out and capture of the world's most unfortunate self-styled King, Saddam Hussein.

Many things did happen, however, tending to overshadow the season.

In Iran, it was the devastating Earthquake that left tens of thousands of people dead and scores injured.

In Northern Uganda, the small East African country in the war-troubled Great Lakes region, it was the Rwandan genocide that left 800,000 people killed in a single year, and then the protracted guerilla war in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In this Ugandan Northern District of Gulu, while the world was celebrating the festivities, people were being herded into concentration camps for protection against another human butcher, Joseph Kony, and his rebel group, the so-called Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA have been operating in Gulu for the last seventeen years. The UN also estimates a total of 1.2 million people in concentration camps up from 800,000 from the past year.

The LRA rebel group is allegedly sponsored by the Sudan government in retaliation for the support the Ugandan government gives to the Sudan Peoples Liberation/Army rebels (SPLM/A), operating in the southern parts of Sudan bordering the Ugandan northern district of Gulu. However, the government recently said it had stopped the support. It is involved in talks with its Ugandan counterparts and the SPLM/A.

The US has also labeled Sudan as one of its top ranked lists of the countries sponsoring terrorists.

People in this part of the country have gone through the wrath of Kony and his group committing atrocities against unarmed women and children, the young and old. These atrocities include hacking victims using machetes and clubs, mutilating their bodies, and locking the mouths with padlocks. They have attacked funeral sessions and made the bereaved cook and eat the dead, and later massacred the bereaved themselves.

Children have been killed or abducted from homes or schools, some forcefully recruited into rebel ranks, others sold as slaves, young girls gang raped and forcefully married to rebel officials. According to UN monitors more than 8,000 children were abducted in the last year; the biggest number from the previous years.

When the sun comes up, the fresh air of the day is overshadowed with cries of death and screams of children. No decent burial for fear of delay and an imminent attack, just a fast secret burial.

It is common to find children moving around naked and malnourished, women and men half naked; they can not afford even the basic needs. A meal of porridge is all that is enough for twenty-four hours.

The hope now is for this suffering to end even sooner. Now that the United Nations has realized it has a lot of work to do in Uganda, hopes are lingering in the minds of the People of Northern Uganda, and Uganda in general.

United Nations and other European Union member states have agreed to push for peace in Uganda with an appeal of $130 million for humanitarian aid.

Yet, the conflict there is the biggest forgotten and neglected humanitarian emergency in the world. In the East African (the regional press) and IRIN (UN news service), Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, was quoted in saying that the UN and the donor community had done so little.

This conflict has spread in the Eastern parts of Uganda, but the military campaign there with local militia, popularly known as the Arrow group, formed by the people of Teso, has limited rebel operations into the Teso region.

The UN however resolved to push for promoting peace through diplomacy rather than military means. With this there is much hope that the war will come to an end.

So as you celebrate your new year with fireworks, they are watching gun fire and smoke, hidden in grasslands in the cold with a prayer to see the sun again tomorrow.



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