Zziwa: EALA to defend rights of children in war-torn areas

The East African Legislative Assembly will continue pushing for the rights of children affected by conflict and wars in the EAC region and beyond. This is in a bid to halt recruitment of children into armies and ensure that former child soldiers are accepted back into society, EALA Speaker Margaret Nantongo Zziwa said.

The East African Legislative Assembly will continue pushing for the rights of children affected by conflict and wars in the EAC region and beyond. This is in a bid to halt recruitment of children into armies and ensure that former child soldiers are accepted back into society, EALA Speaker Margaret Nantongo Zziwa said.

Zziwa made the remarks after receiving a delegation of child rights’ activists under the aegis of Invisible Children who called on the Assembly in Arusha, Tanzania on Friday.

The Speaker reiterated the need to address peace and security challenges, adding that EALA would join hands with likeminded organisations such as the Invisible Children and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to ensure peace prevailed.

The four-person delegation, headed by Jolly Grace Okot – Andruville, Regional Ambassador for Invisible Children, was in Arusha to brief EALA members about their work and to seek their support in their advocacy work.

The group presented a petition to EALA calling for their intervention to end the activities of Ugandan rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  

EALA voice 

Andruville noted that her organisation had similarly sought the support of the US Government through the Congress in  the hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony and also for support of rehabilitation for the war-ravaged communities in East and Central Africa.

“It is sad that innocent children continue to suffer with the most affected areas bordering the Central Africa Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Andruville remarked.  “The voice of EALA is of absolute importance in the matter. They should spearhead the regional initiative to bring the LRA issue to an end.”

According to the petitioners, the LRA remains a strong security threat to the region.

As of May 2013, Invisible Children notes, there were approximately 600 combatants and dependants in LRA including up to 200 Ugandan citizens.  

It further states that between October 2009 and March 2013, Kony and his senior commanders took safe haven at Kafia Kingi enclave that lies between the borders of Sudan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

It also called on the EAC Assembly to urge regional governments to contribute troops to support anti-LRA operations in the region akin to joint operations against militant groups like the Al-Shabab.

“We ask EALA’s Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee to critically study and examine the LRA conflict, its survival strategy and what needs to be done to permanently end the crisis and to make recommendations to the Assembly,” the petition reads in part.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of a Special summit of the ICGLR, in Kenya that ended with a raft of resolutions aimed at ending ongoing conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and between Sudan and South Sudan.

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