23.10.08 17:05 Age: 3 yrs

International ecumenical delegation to visit Uganda


Children living in the Pabbo camp for internally displaced people. Photo: Flickr

The plight of people displaced by war will be the main topic of a "Living Letters" visit to Uganda, 27 October to 2 November. An international ecumenical delegation sent by the World Council of Churches (WCC) will discuss with representatives of churches, state and civil society about the protection of refugees, with a specific focus on sexual violence and the vulnerability of children.


Uganda has recently returned to relative stability after decades of military dictatorship and civil war. The government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), that had infested northern Uganda for nearly two decades, have signed a truce in August 2006 and a permanent ceasefire in February 2008 at talks in Juba, Sudan.


According to the United Nations refugee agency UHNCR, more than half the 1.8 million internally displaced persons in the north have now returned to their villages of origin or to transit sites closer to their homes. However, some 3'000 widows and orphans have nowhere to return to following the death of family heads in the 20-year war in the north or the sale of their land by relatives, UNHCR stated.


The WCC delegation members (see list below) will learn about peace-building in Uganda and share experiences made in their own churches in Australia, the Middle East, Asia and different regions of Africa.


The ecumenical delegation is sent to Uganda as "living letters" to express the solidarity of the WCC fellowship, which comprises 349 churches worldwide. Until 2010, several Living Letters visits take place each year throughout the world in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.


The agenda of the visit includes:


Monday, 27 October, Kampala:


Worship and briefing on the country's situation at the Uganda Joint Christian Council.


Meeting with Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, minister of internal affairs and chief negotiator during the peace talks with the LRA.


Tuesday, 28 October, Kampala:


Meeting with members of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, including its chairperson Margaret Sekaggya.


Encounters with Anglican, Orthodox and Catholic leaders.


Wednesday to Friday, 29-31 October, field visits:


Part of the delegation travels north to Gulu and Pabbo Camp in the Amuru district. The other half of the delegation visits Katakwi, Soroti and Orungo in North-Eastern Uganda.


Each group will hold a dialogue with political, religious and cultural leaders, representatives of civil society organizations and government agencies on "Sustainable Peace in Northern Uganda: The Role of Faith communities".


Saturday, 1 November, Kampala:


Public hearing with non-governmental organizations, churches, community-based organizations, women, students and youth organizations at the Pope Paul VI Memorial Centre.


Sunday, 2 November, Kampala:


Worship in local churches and encounters with the communities


Members of the ecumenical delegation:

  • Rev. Keith Briant, National Council of Churches in Australia
  • Mr George Hazou, Middle East Council of Churches, Jordan
  • Ms Mbari Kioni, All Africa Conference of Churches, Kenya
  • Ms Janejinda Pawadee, Christian Conference of Asia, Thailand
  • Mr Timotheus Kamaboakai, World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, Liberia / Switzerland

Semegnish Asfaw, WCC research associate for the Decade to Overcome Violence, and the coordinator of the WCC Migration and Social Justice project, Sydia Nduna, will accompany the delegation.


More information on Living Letters visits to churches


WCC member churches in Uganda


Uganda Joint Christian Council