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Northern Uganda Newsletter

FRIENDS OF NORTHERN UGANDA

South West Newsletter                                      Summer 2006

                                                                                                                                                                       6, Lyndhurst Rd                                                                                 Exmouth EX8 3DT Dear There have been several developments over the past few months, both in Uganda, within FONU and within our region.

UGANDA

Although the terrible war is still continuing, talks have at last begun again between Government representatives and the leaders of the LRA, and this time there is more possibility of some sort of settlement. Tragically, the Ugandan Government will not agree to a cease-fire whilst the talks go on at Juba, in southern Sudan. They argue that the LRA have abused such ceasefires in the past. As expected, both sides are accusing each other of duplicity and outrageous violence, but the fact that they are talking is a step forward. Mediation is in the hands of the Sudanese Vice President, Dr Rick Machur. The LRA have requested a UN presence, but the Ugandan President has ruled this out, saying it is an internal matter. He has set a deadline of September 12th for something to be resolved. It is reported that relatives of the LRA leaders, including Joseph Kony’s mother and a group of Acholi elders are trying to promote peace through confidence building. Please pray for a good outcome!

FONU

Following a meeting between our Policy Director, Malcolm Harper, and Baroness Cox and representations made to members of the Government and the House of Lords, a debate on Northern Uganda was held in the Upper House.  It is impossible to be precise about what triggers action. Many overtures have been made by FONU and other concerned individuals and organisations directly to Government ministers and  key people in the media. There has been more exposure of the North Uganda war on both radio and television in recent months, although other tragedies mean that it has never been a top story for more than a single day. The British Government have responded by withholding some aid payments to the Ugandan Government and have said that they will divert this directly to organisations helping war victims in North Uganda. This may well have prompted the Ugandan Government to reconsider entering into talks, and have paved the way for more well established charities to consider working in the area. Enclosed with this letter is a copy of the petition form SHOUT FOR UGANDA. If you have not already signed this and obtained signatures from friends, please do so, and return it directly to the organisers at 66,a Hampton Rd. Warwick CV34 6JW. Please do this by 1st November. The petition was launched at the annual meeting of the Uganda Church Association and has the backing of FONU.  On our own projects, talks have been entered into between FONU and the charity CORD, who are working with two groups in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader on HIV/AIDS counselling and are also helping former abducted children to re-integrate and support themselves through learning bee-keeping and honey production skills. David Luwum has organised some fundraising concerts in Nottingham in aid of a clean water project in Kitgum, and I have received school reports on the progress of Michael Ojek and Geoffrey Ryeko, the two young men who escaped from the LRA and are now back in full-time education at Kitgum Comprehensive College. As things stand we have just about enough money in hand now to pay for the rest of their education. This is being remitted to the school on an annual basis. We have also learned that Jacqueline Aryemo has completed her training as a tailor, so that she can earn a living in Kitgum to support herself and her young daughter. Malcolm Harper saw the girl when he visited the area last year and says that she appears “transformed” by the help and practical support she is receiving.    SOUTH WEST LINKS In addition to FONU there are also several links in South West England with Northern Uganda, which include an official one with the Diocese of  Bristol, which has led to some exchange visits and support for the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative. In Exeter, the Devon Development Education Unit, based at the Global Centre in St. David’s Hill, encourages links between schools in Devon and Uganda. These include several schools in Gulu, where there have been teacher exchanges and a creative ‘Food for Thought’ programme, which focuses on an appropriate diet and sustainable farming. (Many Ugandan schools have farm units.) In last December, Gulu University carried out an extensive evaluation of the project, praising it and adding that in addition to developing new skills it had helped provide nutritious and diversified food to pupils and their families. Several young adults from Devon have gone to Northern Uganda to work alongside local people in building programmes at needy primary schools. The Charity ‘Women and Children in Africa’, based in Newton Abbot, is raising money for Keyo Primary School in Gulu and helping to build a vocational training centre there. They are also assisting a day care centre for children between the ages of 3 and 6 at a displaced person’s camp at Palenga. A container with play equipment and toys is being sent out in October. Telephone Joanna on 01626 356635, if you can help.        In peace,                                      Yours sincerely,                                                                         Noel Harrower
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