Uganda holding its breathe for peace–again
Posted on July 17th, 2006
Once again Uganda is holding it’s breathe for peace. Peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA formally opened on Friday in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba. But prior to this there was much confusion about whether senior LRA leaders would attend. AT first they said they were not interested in the amnesty the Uganda government had offered, then they were.. It does not bode well.
There have been attempts at peace, and each time the LRA have failed to live up to their side of the bargain. Perhaps it is because they have nothing to offer. We have been here before. There is no indication that this time it will be any different. For my part, while I’m a little hopeful, I’m skeptical that anything will be achieved.
G8 hijacked by world events—again
Posted on July 17th, 2006
Another year and more of the same. Events in the Middle East have taken centre stage and driven all other concerns off the table. It was hoped that there would be movement on the global problem of infectious disease which was supposed to be a major item on the summit agenda, but it seems it is not going to happen, according to a senior international official familiar with the kind of negotiations that take place at the G8 “This was an opportunity for a big push forward and now it appears it’s not going to happen,” he said. Coming on the back of the dismal report of the G8 fulfilling last years promises, it seems another year will be lost to conflict.
The more things change….5 years on
Posted on July 11th, 2006
By chance I came across some old webpages cached from 5 years ago, the very early days of Medilinks. At the time Medilinks was hosted at www.medilinks.org. A lot has changed over the last 5 years, and yet depressingly a lot has remained the same. The subjects I was writing about at that time in 2001 such as malaria, the lack of doctors, HIV/AIDS are the same familiar subjects that are being debated today. A lot has changed in the last 5 years but equally unfortunately a lot has stayed the same. To coin that old cliché plus ca change, plus ca meme…Come to think of it I’ve used that before….
Malaria was on my mind, when I wrote Malaria no longer the forgotten epidemic. Malaria was the ugly stepchild of health…
At the time funding for fighting malaria was woefully low, estimated at a mere $100 million dollars a year. So the donation of US$ 100 million to Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health by an anonymous donor was big news. Other news was the start of clinical trials for vaccines and reports of the success of insecticide treated nets in preventing malaria in children…. Looking back it’s startling to realize that Africa Malaria Day has only been marked for the last 5 years, the same age as Medilinks. It shows just how low malaria was on the priorities of health and policy planners. Malaria is no longer the ugly step child of health…it has big players looking to find a solution…most notably the Gates Foundation which already had billions and was recently awarded another staggering $38 billion dollars from Warren Buffet. Is there a chance that malaria will defeated in our lifetime? Watch this space.
It was also blindingly obvious 5 years ago there were not enough health professionals to ensure the success of treatment programs for HIV/AIDS in Africa which I wrote about in an article entitled “>http://web.archive.org/web/20010927000434/http://www.medilinks.org/
Overdue for Women
Posted on July 10th, 2006
For more than 50 years we have known how to manage safe child birth and yet more than 500,000 women die a year from preventable causes during childbirth, the most natural of processes. Most are from the developed world, many from Africa. This week comes a report that, “more than four million women and girls in Africa undergo unsafe abortions annually, and about 34,000 of them die because of complications from the procedure,ore than four million women and girls in Africa undergo unsafe abortions annually, and about 34,000 of them die because of complications from the procedure”, it is a horrific and unnecessary toll on the women of Africa ( Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy).
So it is nice to report the tireless Stephen Lewis, U.N. Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, is turning his efforts to creating a U.N. agency to address women’s rights and needs (Mallard, VOA News, 7/7). Lewis said “women are suffering grievously all over the world” because of a lack of economic empowerment and exposure to maternal mortality, armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and sexual violence. “[As] I watch the carnage and ravages of AIDS in Africa and the toll it has taken on women, I know that finally, after 50 years of passivity and paralysis, it’s time to have an agency through which women can assert their rights,”
According to Lewis, “The agency would not replace other U.N groups that work on women’s issues, including the World Health Organization and the U.N. Population Fund, according to Lewis. “I wouldn’t think for a moment of taking pieces out of reputable existing agencies, which are doing a good job. … [I am] advocating for a new, independent, full-fledged operational [U.N.] Agency with country capacity on the ground, much like UNICEF,” Lewis said (VOA News, 7/7). Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report
Uganda dealing with the devil
Posted on July 6th, 2006
This week comes news that the Uganda government is giving Kony a pardon to end the war in the North. Why I hear you cry, why would they do such a thing? Perhaps they are bowing to international pressure…My views on Kony and his henchmen are well known…
Last year I in Peace at any cost I wrote “I understand the desire for peace, but should it be peace at any cost? In my view if the price is Kony and his lieutenants get away, it is just too high. What message will this send to the survivors, or future generations? That monsters can get away with committing such crimes with impunity? As one who has lost relatives to such evil people I say if there is to be any long lasting peace, then all those who seek peace in Northern Uganda should join in bringing Kony to justice. Let he and his henchmen be tried in open court, at least they’ll get something that they never allowed their victims – a Fair Chance. But Kony should not be allowed to escape justice. Ever!”. I stand firmly by those words.
I cannot profess to fathom what forces have compelled the Uganda government to come to some arrangement with Kony. In my opinion, Uganda is making a deal with the devil, a deal they will come to bitterly regret. As it is Kony may yet escape justice in Uganda, which will be a tragedy of immense proportions. The only message this kind of message this kind of deal sends is that killing and committing atrocities pays. I am gladdened by the fact that he will not escape justice totally. The warrant issued by the ICC still stands, LRA – ICC Most Wanted and they have said that regardless of whatever agreement is made, they will seek to arrest him and bring him to justice. The US government has also come down firmly on the side of human rights. A statement issued by the US embassy in Kampala stated: “President Museveni announced that he is willing to extend amnesty to the LRA leader Joseph Kony – and potentially the rest of the LRA leadership as well. The United States respects Uganda’s decision on this matter, but we believe those who have committed atrocities in this long-standing insurgency should be held accountable for their deeds.”
The desire for peace is a strong one, but if one needs to know what chances there are of peace, then you better know the devil you are dealing with. If people think they can trust the LRA to make peace, they better think again. The LRA have been given many chances to come to the table to make peace and each time they have eschewed it in favour of committing more war and bringing more misery to Northern Uganda. Kony himself will not even admit to what he has done, and caused to be done in his name, the decades of war, misery and atrocities, tens of thousands dead, children abducted, millions displaced. All well documented and well known. Instead, so emboldened is Kony by those who would seek to appease him, he has been making outrageous statements to the effect that he has never been involved in atrocities. Such a person can never be trusted. Amnesty, or official pardons are not the answer. Nothing less than bringing the leaders of the LRA to justice will suffice to bring closure to the millions who have suffered over the last twenty years.