Intense Grief and Fear in Northern Uganda

from Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres

For 18 years, people in northern Uganda have endured a brutal conflict with consequences that are nearly invisible to the outside world. More than 1.6 million people û 80 percent of northern Uganda's entire population û have been displaced and now live in squalid conditions. Civilians have been attacked and killed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in their villages, as well as in the camps where they have sought refuge. The LRA has abducted tens of thousands of children, forcing them into combat and sexual slavery, a fear that causes up to 50,000 children to stream into city or camp centers across the north every night from as far as 10 miles away in search of a safe place to sleep. The Ugandan army has moved hundreds of thousands of civilians against their will into "protected villages" that offer little security and hardly any assistance, and has victimized ordinary people with brutal raids against suspected LRA militants. While the death toll from direct violence reaches into the tens of thousands, chronic food and water shortages in the 200 makeshift settlements throughout the north have also exacted a heavy price. In November 2004 alone, MSF recorded staggering death rates in six camps in Lira and Pader districts, with many dying from preventable diseases like malaria, respiratory disease, and diarrhea. Recent peace overtures from both the LRA and the government have not led to a noticeable improvement of the situation for people living in deplorable conditions and in constant fear.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries. Learn more here – http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org.

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