Ugandan Peace Symposium

I attended a symposium on peace building and community transformation in post-conflict environments where Evelyn Amony, wife of Joseph Kony, former member of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and survivor of the conflict in Uganda between the LRA and the government, was a featured speaker. Evelyn spoke about her experiences in Uganda, the current state of the nation, and her hopes for the future. Foremost among these hopes was the desire to see the Ugandan government address the root causes of the prolonged conflict in northern Uganda and take preventative steps to ensure the devastating violence Evelyn and countless others lived through does not occur again. A brief summary of the current state of post-conflict Uganda follows.

The prolonged conflict in Uganda produced countless refugees, some of whom traveled across the border into Sudan. Recently, tensions in the border region between Uganda and Sudan have been exacerbated by the influx of Sudanese refugees. Many Ugandan communities are struggling to produce enough food the survive. The arrival of Sudanese refugees makes survival more challenging as some refugees cultivate crops and allow their animals to graze on land that belongs to others. An additional problem arises from the influx of refugees that formerly belonged to security forces in Sudan. Some of these former security forces are coming in with firearms that may easily end up in the hands of rebels, constituting a major security threat. Furthermore, many unaccompanied children are fleeing Sudan for Uganda, where there are not enough schools, hospitals or water to support them.

Concerns for Uganda’s future are emerging as the state government fails to prioritize addressing the roots of conflict in the northern region. A tenuous peace may have emerged in northern Uganda, but the LRA is still a threat despite diminished numbers. As a conflict fades in public memory, people, including decision-makers, begin to believe the problem has been solved. This pattern is shown in the failure of the Ugandan government to give adequate attention to northern conflict and national-level threats, which increases the risk of a return to violence.

In conclusion, Uganda’s post-conflict environment is facing a new challenge from refugee movements while still working to move forward from years of war. It is vital that the Ugandan government continue supporting efforts to rebuild and revitalize scarred communities.

Evelyn Amony and I are pictured below at the symposium.