United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the recent signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group notorious for committing atrocities against civilians.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan called the Agreement, which was reached under the auspices of the Government of Southern Sudan, a “step in the right direction and could pave the way for a comprehensive settlement after decades of violence.”
He encouraged the two parties to continue talks aimed at finding a “lasting and expeditious political settlement” to the conflict and voiced hope that the cessation of hostilities would pave the way for efforts to help “improve the deplorable condition of the nearly 2 million internally displaced people in Northern Uganda.”
The UN, he said, “stands ready to assist in the resolution of the conflict in Northern Uganda, and will continue doing its utmost to mobilize resources so that people suffering from the violence can receive much-needed assistance.”
On Monday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who has long decried the fighting in northern Uganda, said the cessation of hostilities represents the “best hope for sustainable peace in the region in some time.”
In addition to forcing 2 million people to flee their homes, the 20-year conflict has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, and 25,000 children have been abducted and forced into military service.
The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) first-ever arrest warrants, issued last October, targeted five LRA leaders.
UN human rights officials have said that the group used children as fighters and porters, often subjecting them to extreme violence shortly after abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape.
The warrants are against LRA leader Joseph Kony as well as commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya.