Stalled Ugandan Peace Talks put Civilians at Risk Warns Oxfam

By Oxfam

International agency Oxfam today warned that the stalled Ugandan peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were in danger of causing a resurgence of violence and a renewed humanitarian emergency. The agency called on the international community to use all its diplomatic influence to persuade both parties to get the peace talks back on track.

The talks, which have been held in Juba, southern Sudan, are reportedly in jeopardy due to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) delegation refusal to return to Sudan because of Sudan's threat to eject the LRA's forces from Sudan.

"These talks are the best chance for peace in 20 years. They cannot be allowed to fail. For the sake of the people of northern Uganda, it is crucial that both parties do everything within their power to ensure that these peace talks do not collapse," said Savio Carvalho, Oxfam Country Programme Manager in Uganda.

"The brief respite the people have enjoyed since the ceasefire will come to nought if fighting is allowed to resume -- the international community has a responsibility to help the Ugandan government to protect the civilians from a possible return of violence and needs to inject all its diplomatic energy to persuade both parties to continue talking and come to a just and sustainable settlement," added Mr. Carvalho.

Since the ceasefire of five months ago the people of northern Uganda have enjoyed a semblance of normality. Roads and water boreholes have been constructed and trade with South Sudan promises economic recovery.

An estimated 230,000 people have returned to their homes and begun to put their lives together. Up to 1.4 million people remain in IDP camps due to continued insecurity but travel between the camps and their home areas. Spread over the country-side of northern Uganda these people are now largely unprotected from the threat of an LRA return.

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