Church in war-torn northern Uganda issue desperate appeal

 More than 800,000 people in Northern Uganda have been displaced by rebels of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), and government troops. Both factions are both committing atrocities against the population, and there is a growing shortage of food. This was the catastrophic scenario described by the religious leaders of the ARLPI (Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative), headed by the Catholic Archbishop of Gulu, Mgr John Baptist Odama. At the conclusion of the annual assembly held in Gulu, the main city of North Uganda, they issued a document appealing for support. "The Lord calls us to speak on behalf of these people" - they wrote in a document received by the Missionary News Service - "the situation is desperate". Describing how the rebels of the LRA kill without mercy, kidnap dozens of children daily and attack villages, they said people are afraid to use the roads, for fear of ambush. Displaced people are living in appalling conditions, while those able to return home, often find their huts devastated and pillaged by guerrillas or government soldiers. The Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox signatories of the document said the government army is out of control, and has killed many innocent people. To make matters worse, they said the government constantly puts out reports on the media of their army's successes. The ARLPI leaders appealed to both sides in the conflict to respect life and seek a peaceful solution to their differences. They also call on the international community: "Do not watch our tragedy from far in silence. Do not delay sending humanitarian aid."

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