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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Q&A: Uganda's northern war
Massacre survivor
The rebels are targeting camps for displaced people
A truce has come into effect, raising hopes that the 20-year war in northern Uganda could soon be over. The UN's head of humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, has described the situation as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

About 20,000 children have been caught up in a conflict between government forces and a group known as the Lord's Resistance Army. More than one million people have fled their homes.

Who are the Lord's Resistance Army?

The rebels are led by Joseph Kony, who was part of a previous rebel force in northern Uganda.

He has said that he wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments.

But the rebel practice of abducting schoolchildren, forcing the girls to be sex slaves and the boys to be brutal killers flies in the face of Christian teachings.

He also says he is fighting for the rights of the region's Acholi people, against perceived discrimination by the government.

However, Acholis bear the brunt of the fighting and many LRA fighters are forced to bear arms.

The LRA does not have much popular support, although many northerners do agree that their region is being ignored.

Why can't the army defeat them?

Guerrilla armies are notoriously difficult to completely wipe out - as even the powerful United States military has found.

Hopes were high that the LRA might be defeated in 2002, when Sudan allowed the Ugandan army to pursue the LRA across the border, where the rebels had their rear bases.

But the fighters responded by increasing their attacks in Uganda.

Residents of northern Uganda flee from brutal acts of rebels

Uganda has recently renewed its accusations that the rebels are being armed by Sudan.

President Museveni also blames donor countries for insisting that defence spending be kept low.

Uganda depends on donor aid but Mr Museveni says he should have told donors to "go to hell".

MPs in the north say army leaders have become corrupt and are using the war to get rich.

One scandal involved "ghost soldiers" where large sums of money were reportedly claimed for soldiers who were no longer on the army pay-roll. An investigation has been opened.

Correspondents say foot soldiers have become demoralised and have lost the stomach to fight.

Local self-defence militias have been formed but they are not well armed.

How much of Uganda has been affected?

At first, the LRA confined its attacks to the north but last year, they spread to parts of the east as well.

More than one million people have fled their homes. Many thousands abandoned their home in rural villages every night and sought shelter in the relative safety of big towns.

Aid agencies have been delivering relief supplies to the displaced but the camps where they work have themselves been targeted by the LRA.

Why are peace talks making progress now?

The key change in recent years seems to be that support for the LRA from Sudan's government has dwindled since a peace deal giving southern Sudan more autonomy.

The LRA has shifted its operational base to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but has clashed with United Nations forces there. The LRA appears to be running out of friends, and this has forced the rebel movement to push for peace.

There are still substantial obstacles to overcome.

Even if the LRA releases its captives and its fighters assemble in southern Sudan as planned, there is still the thorny issue of how a final peace deal and amnesty can be negotiated when the LRA's top leaders are wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The BBC's Peter Greste
"The LRA is clearly undefeated"

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