Kampala (Fides Service) – “I wanted to speak on behalf of the weakest members of society who for 17 years have been the victims of this absurd war” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu (northern Uganda) in a Pastoral Letter with the title: “I have seen the humiliation of my people”. In his letter, issued on 29 June Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Archbishop voices solidarity with the victims of the war raging in the region and calls on those responsible to take the path for peace.
“Day after day I see the suffering caused by this senseless violence and I am reminded of the passage in the Book of Exodus which says that God hears the cry of his suffering people. With my letter I wish to make an even louder call to the international community to intervene immediately”.
“The innocent victims of a conflict which has dragged on for too long are mainly women and children. The Church is also affected, she is hampered in her mission of evangelisation. It is time for all this to sop”.
“I call on the international community to take the humanitarian tragedy in Northern Uganda in hand and order decisive action to restore peace”.
For years the rebel group which calls itself the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has devastated northern Uganda, striking mainly civilians. In recent months it has intensified its activity, raiding, plundering, killing, and kidnapping children from unprotected villages. To escape capture many children sleep at missions or parish centres.
In early March the LRA announced a cease-fire, which did not materialise. Composed mainly of Acholi tribesmen, since 1989 LRA has fought President Yoweri Museveni who took power in 1986 overthrowing a mainly Acholi military junta, many of the latter fled to Sudan where they formed the LRA and other guerrilla groups.
Besides its ethnic component the LRA is characterised by an ideology based on religious syncretism, a mix of elements of Christianity, Islam and traditional African religions. LM (Fides Service 5/7/2003 EM lines 33 Words: 364)