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Uganda children

23 February 2006

sent 23 February 2006 to the Church of Uganda and the Uganda Joint Christian Council by World Council of Churches general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the name of the Risen Christ.

Meeting in Porto Alegre for the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Assembly delegates experienced in person the heart-wrenching pain and suffering of children in northern Uganda. The delegates coming from North, South, East and West were shocked to hear Mr Olara Otunnu, the President of LBL Foundation for Children, described the horrendous situation of these children in his presentation : « Saving God's children from the scourge of war ». The presentation was part of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence and highlighted the plight and misery of children caught in a senseless war in the northern region of Uganda.

There are many critical situations of conflicts in Africa, and children have become unfortunate victims of these tragic wars. It may not be right to draw up a hierarchy of suffering amongst the many ongoing conflicts in the region. All are sinful and against the will of God. But some are horrendous and tend to be ignored by the international community and the media. Little is known about them to the outside world. The Assembly delegates heard from Mr Otunnu about the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in northern Uganda that has been going on, non stop, for twenty years. As a result of this conflict during these last years around two million people, of whom 80% are children and women, have been herded like animals into some twenty concentration camps run by Lord's Resistance Army. They live in deplorable conditions without proper facilities of hygiene and sanitation. Many more have been physically abused, detained and raped by the Uganda People's Defence Forces. The situation is alarming and near genocidal. Yet the world knows so little about these crimes against humanity.

As we come together in prayer and worship and seek God's grace to transform the world, let us remember the pain and the suffering, the humiliation and despair of these poor innocent children of Uganda. Let us all unequivocally denounce those responsible for committing these crimes against humanity with such impunity. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1653, let us urge the international community to remain seized of the situation in northern Uganda and take all action needed to stop the human rights violations. 

It is time for us all to stand in solidarity with the churches and church leaders in Uganda. I encourage you to come together to listen to testimonies of people who have experienced the horrors of war. I am convinced you will hear the cries of these children and will identify together appropriate ways to initiate urgent action to denounce these atrocities and foster peace that will bring relief to the people of northern Uganda. Let us rise to provide the prophetic witness and leadership to bring to an end the human rights violations being committed on the vulnerable people of northern Uganda. We believe this is also a case for advocacy to be taken up by the international ecumenical community and the churches worldwide. Let the people of northern Uganda hear the message : « God will speak peace to his people and his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him. Mercy and truth will meet, justice and peace will embrace, the Lord will give what is good to our land » (Psalm 85 :8-13).

Yours in Christ, the Lord of all,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary