Sir, The children and adolescents of northern Uganda would be unlikely to share even the limited optimism about their country’s prospects as expressed by R. W. Johnson (“At last, glimmers of light on the dark continent”, Comment, July 8). US counter-terrorism support for Uganda’s military offensive against the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has intensified a bloody civil war there, increasing violence, particularly against children, to its worst-ever levels.
Despite recent and upcoming meetings with Uganda’s President Museveni, President Bush has failed to make any public comment about this humanitarian disaster.
In the past year alone, at least 8,000 young people have been abducted by the LRA, bringing the total of them taken to more than 20,000 in the 17-year conflict. Approximately 800,000 people — mostly children — have been displaced. Many schools are closed, food is scarce, and humanitarian agencies cannot reach those most in need. Uganda has undoubtedly made significant strides in the fight against HIV/Aids, but new infection rates in the war-torn north are the highest in the nation.
The United States must use its political and diplomatic influence to help negotiate a peaceful end to the war in the north so that the country can truly become the success story it is touted to be.
Director, Children and Adolescents Project
Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children