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After 20 years of war an armistice in Northern Uganda

Hundreds of abducted women and children are to be released - Criticism of the blockade attitude of the EU

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, 29. August 2006

Hundreds of women and children who were abducted by the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in North Uganda are to be released in the next few days. This was agreed in the framework of the armistice signed by the LRA and the Ugandan government, which has come into force this Tuesday morning. "Among the two million Acholi, who were driven out by terror and war, now there is growing a hope of peace and life without fear and panic", said the GfbV Africa expert, Ulrich Delius. Although the armistice has a time limit North Uganda has never been as close to a permanent peace as today.

"So it is even less understandable that the European Union (EU) is to a large extent ignoring the peace process and is even in some respects standing in its way", criticised Delius. The main problem is caused by the insistence of the EU that the LRA leaders be punished by the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Only last week the British Foreign Office stated that five LRA commanders for whom warrants for their arrest have been issued must definitely answer to the Court at The Hague. But in Northern Uganda justice according to Acholi law is preferred because this will not endanger the peace process. "The EU must give up once and for all its blockade of the attempts at peace for North Uganda", wrote the GfbV in a letter to the Finnish President of the EU. The search for justice must not be an end in itself and certainly not at the expense of peace.

While EU foreign ministers are constantly going to the Middle East to assist negotiations no European minister has taken part in the peace negotiations in Juba (South Sudan) in July 2006 or expressed interest in ending this "hell on earth for children" by a visit to the capital of Uganda, criticised the GfbV. "It is a statement of bankruptcy for Europe's interest in the rights of children if the Finnish EU president sees the signing of the armistice for Northern Uganda as worthy of a statement of only five sentences", criticised the GfbV.

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