Uganda UNs top aid official calls for improved security at rebel assembly

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland met President Yoweri Museveni last night in the capital Kampala, to discuss the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in August with the LRA and also his meeting on Sunday with rebel leader Joseph Kony and other officials, a UN spokesman said. “While agreeing with the President that the peace talks could not continue indefinitely, Mr. Egeland emphasized the need to maintain the Cessation of Hostilities, noting that there had never been a quieter period in northern Uganda,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.“Of particular importance was the need to improve conditions in the LRA assembly areas by ensuring basic services and a sense of security for the LRA as they gathered there, Mr. Egeland added.”In his meeting with Mr. Kony, Mr. Egeland called for the LRA to release children, women and other non-combatants, emphasizing that it was “make-or-break time” in the peace process with the Government.Mr. Kony, who has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), raised the issue of the indictment against him and other senior LRA leaders, although Mr. Egeland reiterated that he would not speak on behalf of the ICC, which is an independent organization.During its long conflict with the Ugandan Government, the LRA became notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape.The UN has begun to provide humanitarian assistance to the areas affected by LRA violence, while the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas is providing basic services to the LRA assembly areas. The UN will provide logistical support to the peace process through the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and will also be observers of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team.Mr. Egeland is now on his way to the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

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