400,000 Ugandans displaced by terrorists


By Norm Dixon

Largely unreported by the establishment press, 400,000 Ugandans have been forced to flee their homes by vicious attacks by terrorist groups sponsored by the reactionary Arab-chauvinist government in Sudan.

The bandits operate from eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The failure of the DRC government to prevent the cross-border attacks, and more recently the Laurent Kabila regime's open collaboration with anti-Uganda forces in its battle against DRC army mutineers in eastern Congo, have prompted the Ugandan government to back the mutiny in eastern DRC.

The International Red Cross said on October 27 that at least 420,000 Ugandans were internally displaced in Uganda's northern and western regions. The Red Cross is providing the refugees with medical care and seeds and agricultural tools.

Sudan sponsors three main anti-Uganda terrorist groups that operate out of Sudan and the DRC. The most notorious is the Lord's Resistance Army, which targets Uganda's north-east.

The LRA is a bizarre Christian fundamentalist gang whose aim is to rule on the basis of the Ten Commandments. The LRA routinely mutilates its victims by cutting off noses, ears and lips. It regularly abducts school children, forcing them to fight or become sex slaves.

At least 300,000 people have fled from districts where the LRA is active.

The West Nile Bank Front, which terrorises Uganda's north-west, is led by Colonel Juma Oris, who was foreign minister in the bloodthirsty regime of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Uganda's New Vision newspaper reported on September 30 that Taban Amin, Idi Amin's son, commands a unit of the WNBF deployed in eastern DRC.

The third group, the Allied Democratic Forces, operates out of the rugged Ruwenzori Mountains on the DRC-Uganda border. Until late 1996, the ADF was armed by Mobutu and operated from eastern Zaire.

Following the collapse of Mobutu, the ADF was bolstered by defeated troops of the Zaire army as well as Interahamwe fighters responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In past year, the ADF has stepped up its attacks from within the DRC, displacing around 100,000 people.

About 700 LRA, WNBF and ADF fighters fought with Kabila's forces as they unsuccessfully attempted to defend the strategic town of Kindu, which fell to mutineers on October 12. At least 62 Ugandan contras, mostly from the WNBF, were captured after the fall of Kindu.

Meanwhile, nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in north-western Rwanda by DRC-based Interahamwe bands. The number of people in makeshift camps has doubled since August, say aid workers.