UN humanitarian chief arrives in Uganda to meet internally displaced persons

The United Nations humanitarian chief today travelled to Uganda to meet aid workers and local authorities and tour camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) created in the wake of the long-running conflict between Government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, arrived today in the capital, Kampala, for the start of the second leg of his African tour, where he has become the most senior UN official to visit violence-wracked Somalia since the early 1990s.

Mr. Holmes is scheduled to visit the district of Kitgum in northern Uganda tomorrow. Kitgum is home to a settlement camp for IDPs, including ex-combatants.

Peace talks between the Government and LRA leaders resumed in Juba, southern Sudan, on the weekend, a month after the two sides agreed to extend an agreement on a formal cessation of hostilities - first struck last year - until the end of June.

Thousands of people have been killed and an estimated 1.5 million others have become IDPs or refugees in neighbouring countries since the LRA insurgency began in 1986. During that time, the rebel group has become notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape.

In October 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever arrest warrants against Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, and four of the group's commanders - Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya - on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.