Sunday, 14 December 2008

And so it starts again...

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE4BD1AJ20081214

Governments launch military offensive on Uganda rebels

By Jack Kimball

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and south Sudan launched a joint military offensive on Sunday against northern Ugandan rebels in Garamba, eastern Congo, a Ugandan army spokesman said.

The three governments agreed in principle in June to launch joint military operations against the LRA guerrillas -- known for mutilating survivors and kidnapping thousands of children -- if leader Joseph Kony did not sign a final peace deal to end two decades of conflict.

"It's a joint operation ... We have attacked Lords Resistance Army bases. The operation began this morning," Uganda army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said.

Ankunda said they had attacked several camps, and no casualties had been reported so far.

Officials from south Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo were not immediately available for comment.

A swift victory would be unlikely against the guerrillas, experts say, noting they have been in the area for some time and are used to launching hit-and-run attacks against larger and better equipped forces.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last week renewed a call for Kony to sign the peace deal. He was speaking after Kony again snubbed mediators by failing to show up and sign the agreement, thrashed out in two years of negotiations in south Sudan.

Kony has demanded International Criminal Court indictments for him and his top deputies be withdrawn before they leave their forest hideouts in northeastern Congo.

Thousands of people have been killed and 2 million displaced during the 22 years of fighting between Kony's rebels and the Ugandan government.

The conflict has destabilized parts of oil-producing south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Congo


For the last six days I have been in Kisoro District, volunteering with the Uganda Red Cross at Nyakabande Refugee Reception Centre on the D.R.C. border. I will post a full account in the next few days, however I would like to quickly draw attention to the excellent Ushahidi site which is tracking the conflict day-to-day. Ushahidi came to prominance during the Kenyan unrest earlier this year. It allows people on the ground to report acts of violence on the web and then uploads them to create a live map of the conflict. As you can see from the above clip violence has been particularly concentrated on the Uganda border, creating an estimated influx of 30,000 Congolese into the country.

Photo Update

For those that hadn't guessed the photo in the previous post is of the elaborate grasshopper catching technique that dominates the tops of Kampala's buildings at the moment. Operating much like the Venus Flytrap, the bright lights attract the grasshoppers to an area surrounded by smooth iron sheets propped up vertical in old oil drums. When the grasshoppers attempt to land on the sheets their grip fails them and they slide helplessly into the drums from which they can't escape. Hours later they will have been de-winged, deep-fried and devoured.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Kampala At Night Photo Competition

While I admit this photo is unlikely to be on the short-list for a Pulitzer, try squinting a bit and using your imagination, and then see if you can guess what is going on here just 100m from our house...

Hint: 2 storey building, large iron sheets, 1 x 1000 Watt light