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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 16:56 GMT
Uganda conflict 'worse than Iraq'
LRA victim
Rebels chop off noses and ears
The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said.

UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland was speaking to the BBC after visiting the area affected by 18 years of civil war.

"It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, he said.

The rebels routinely abduct children to serve as sex slaves and fighters.

Thousands of children leave their houses in northern Uganda to sleep rough in the major towns, where they feel more safe from the threat of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The United Nations [should] play a great role in scaling down the violence
Ugandan religious leaders
The LRA, under shadowy leader Joseph Kony, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments.

They often mutilate their victims, by cutting off their lips, noses or ears.

"I cannot find any other part of the world that is having an emergency on the scale of Uganda, that is getting such little international attention," Mr Egeland told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

'Victims beheaded'

Earlier, religious leaders from the area urged the United Nations to intervene in the conflict.

"The United Nations (should) play a great role in scaling down the violence by placing peace observers in the conflict areas," said a statement from the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), after meeting Mr Egeland.

LRA gunmen last week killed at least 40 people near the north-eastern town of Lira, officials say.

Some 3,000 people have fled to Lira town following the upsurge in violence.

An army spokesman said the latest attacks seemed to be an act of revenge for the killing of rebel commander Charles Tabuley last month.

Lira district resident commissioner Charles Egou told the BBC that the 3,000 people were being housed in displaced person's camps in the area.

"Scores of civilians were killed at around midnight on 6 November in Alanyi and Awayopiny villages in Lira district," Lieutenant Chris Magezi said.

Children in a Ugandan church
Children prefer to sleep rough in town than risk being abducted
Catholic missionary, Father Sabbat Ayele, told the AFP news agency that witnesses had said the rebels had beheaded some of the victims while a number of grass-thatched huts were set on fire.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a million others displaced by the fighting in northern Uganda alone.

Humanitarian organisations say that about 20,000 children have been abducted by the rebels over the last five years, with many taken to LRA bases in southern Sudan, where they are trained as child soldiers while the girls are turned into sex slaves.

Jan Egeland on BBC Focus on Africa
"It's a moral outrage"

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