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Country Reports
Uganda, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Uganda completed destruction of its stockpile of antipersonnel mines in July 2003. Increased conflict with Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the northern districts has seen new use of antipersonnel mines by LRA forces. Mine risk education activities were hampered by continuing insecurity, as well as lack of funds.

Mine Ban Policy

Uganda signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified it on 25 February 1999, and the treaty entered into force on 1 August 1999. In November 2002, a government official told Landmine Monitor that the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs had submitted the final draft of national implementation legislation to parliament for debate. This was confirmed in January 2003.[1]

Uganda submitted an initial Article 7 transparency report on 24 May 2002; it had been due on 28 January 2000. It provided its annual update on 24 July 2003, covering the period from 24 May 2002 to 23 July 2003. [2]

Uganda participated in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002 and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003.

Uganda voted in support of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74 in November 2002, promoting universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Stockpiling and Destruction

Uganda’s initial Article 7 report for the first time publicly revealed information about the antipersonnel mine stockpile. It declared a stockpile of 6,782 mines, of which 4,382 would be destroyed and 2,400 mines would be retained for training.[3]

At the Stockpile Destruction Standing Committee meeting in February 2003, Uganda reported that the country was seeking external funding assistance to destroy “not only landmines but also stocks of small arms and light weapons that have been accumulated over a long period of wars.” The delegation also noted that the number of mines to be destroyed had grown, as additional mines had been captured from rebels.[4]

At the May 2003 Standing Committee meeting, Uganda announced that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) had made a firm commitment to assist with stockpile destruction and that a technical team from UNDP was expected in Uganda on 20 May. It reported that the number of mines to be destroyed had increased to 5,592, due to new mines captured from rebels, and that on 5 April, 681 captured mines were destroyed with the help of Handicap International Belgium.[5]

In July, Uganda completed destruction of its antipersonnel stockpile, in advance of its treaty-mandated deadline of 1 August 2003. On 7 July 2003, Uganda carried out a destruction event at Kigo Prison shooting range on the shores of Lake Victoria. Vice President Gilbert Bukenya initiated the first detonation and government ministers, diplomats, army officers, religious leaders and the media witnessed the event. A larger detonation by the Army occurred later.[6]

At the event, the Defense Minister Ruth Nankabirwa reportedly said a total of 5,018 mines would be destroyed and the remaining 1,764 antipersonnel mines would be retained for training purposes.[7] This number is less than the 2,400 mines Uganda originally reported it would retain for training.[8]

The Canadian government reports that the destruction certificate, dated 9 July 2003, indicates that 6,383 mines were destroyed.[9] The destruction was funded by Canada, Germany and the UNDP. Canada also provided technical assistance.[10]


In 2000 and 2001, Landmine Monitor had reported serious allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by Ugandan forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2000.[11] The government denied such use, but at the Third Meeting of States Parties in September 2001 said that it supported the ICBL’s suggestion that a full investigation be carried out.[12] Subsequently, at the Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee meeting on 1 February 2002, Uganda informed States Parties of a joint Uganda-Rwanda commission to look into conduct of the fighting in the DRC, which would also investigate the allegations of landmine use. Uganda said it would report back at the May 2002 Standing Committee meetings. At that May 2002 meeting, Uganda reported that the commission had not yet responded on the landmine issue.[13] Uganda has made no further public statements regarding the allegations or the investigation since that time.

Use by Non-State Actors

In 2002, conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) intensified, with renewed and increased reports of use of antipersonnel mines by the LRA. A March 2002 agreement allowed Ugandan army units to pursue LRA units and displace them from their training camps in southern Sudan under “Operation Iron Fist.” Subsequently, the LRA intensified their attacks in Gulu, Pader and Kitgum, and in some parts of Lira and Apac Districts. The rebel attacks have resulted in new reports of mine use and new casualties.

On 25 August 2002, for example, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reported that weapons and equipment recovered during “Operation Iron Fist” included 174 antipersonnel mines and 20 antivehicle mines.[14] In another operation in southern Sudan, Ugandan forces recovered fifteen antipersonnel mines from LRA rebels.[15] One army official reported that in 2002, some 70 antipersonnel mines had been recovered from the LRA in Sudan and fifteen in Gulu. He also said that the UPDF recovered a total of 111 antipersonnel mines from Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts, as well as three from Lira and one from Apac districts.[16]

The UN has expressed concern about LRA actions, stating, “In eastern Equatoria, activities by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) including attacks within Uganda, led to the displacement of approximately 20,000 persons within Sudan and the return of approximately 2,000 Sudanese nationals from northern Uganda. These actions, including the laying of land mines on routes used to provide humanitarian assistance, caused frequent road closures, which impacted negatively on the provision of humanitarian assistance.”[17]

Mine Clearance

Army deminers were deployed in northern Uganda following increased LRA activity in mid-2002.[18] A military spokesman told Landmine Monitor, “The landmine sweepers will be used where mines have been detected. We have seen that rebels had resorted to using mines.”[19]

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) carried out a mine action training needs assessment in Uganda between 24 February and 5 March 2003, but the report has not been released.[20]

Mine Risk Education

Mine Risk Education (MRE) is the only coordinated mine action activity in Uganda. It continued in this reporting period, but on a smaller scale because of limited funding and the intensified insurgency.[21] MRE activities have been a collaborative effort between Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR-Uganda), UNACOH, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW-Uganda), Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale (AVSI), Ministry of Health Disability Department, District governments, the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces, District Local Councils, and other NGOs.[22]

In 2002, there were 1,778 MRE community educators for Kasese, Kitgum, Pader and Gulu, including 153 sub-county level educators, 715 primary school teachers, and 620 others. [23] Previously trained community leaders have continued to disseminate information on landmines both in western and northern Uganda. Radio programs on MRE are being carried out. Two drama groups were formed in Paicho and Awach sub-counties of Gulu district to carry out MRE through drama and dance in camps, schools and public places. This has been hampered by the poor security situation in northern Uganda.[24]

Last year, Landmine Monitor reported on a grant from Canada’s development agency, CIDA, for an integrated MRE/victim support program mainly for northern Uganda.[25] In 2002, Canada made a donation of US$118,125 to Uganda, apparently as a continuation of this program.[26] A mid-term evaluation of the project, in November 2002, found most of the communities in the affected districts were aware of the dangers posed by landmines and to a large extent how to avoid them, but the knowledge was not universal. It was also noted that a number of the people trained as mine risk educators lacked resources to mobilize the communities effectively and districts did not have the funds to support MRE programs. The evaluation reported that MRE has been integrated in a number of development projects and groups such as farmers, teachers and community leaders have been sensitized to increase mine awareness in their communities.[27] As a result of increased awareness, communities have increasingly reported landmines to the authorities. For example, when three landmines planted by LRA rebels near a water point were discovered, locals marked and reported them to the authorities for destruction.[28]

Landmine Casualties

The total number of landmine casualties in Uganda is not known, as there is no comprehensive data collection system. Some limited information is available, however, as part of general hospital records maintained according to the Health Information Management System.

In 2002, at least seven mine/UXO casualties were recorded in northern Uganda. In Gulu district, one male mine casualty, aged 16 years, was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor.[29] In Gulu regional hospital, two mine casualties, a man and a woman, were treated.[30] In Gulu Independent Hospital, a female mine casualty was admitted, but later died.[31] In March 2002, one man was killed and another injured when their truck hit a landmine near Pawele trading center in Gulu district.[32] In August 2002, two schoolgirls were injured by landmines at Bungatira, Gulu district and admitted to Gulu hospital.[33]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In February, a mine casualty was admitted to Kitgum hospital.[34] In June, at least five people were killed and 19 others seriously injured when a bus hit a landmine in northern Uganda.[35]  In early 2003, a Ugandan soldier was killed in a landmine blast in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[36]

In 2001, 32 new mine/UXO casualties were reported.[37] Between 1991 and March 2001, 602 mine casualties were reported in Uganda.[38]

Survivor Assistance

Public health care facilities in the mine-affected areas of northern and western Uganda are reportedly not equipped to handle landmine casualties although basic health services are found in hospitals throughout the country. However, in Kasese district in western Uganda, most of the health facilities are operating reasonably well. Casualties often have to travel long distances before reaching suitable medical care.[39]

The Ministry of Health, with support from various development partners including the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank, is endeavoring to improve existing health facilities and build new facilities across the country, especially in mine-affected rural areas.[40]

In 2002, the ICRC provided surgical supplies to three hospitals in the southwest in Kasese and Bundibugyo, six hospitals in the north in Gula and Kitgum, and to a medical camp in Mbale.[41]

In December 2001, the ICRC handed over responsibility for the Fort Portal, Gulu, and Mbarara Regional Orthopedic workshops to the Ministry of Health, after equipping the centers with implements and materials. In 2002, the Fort Portal orthopedic workshop provided 100 prostheses. However, between January and April 2003 only seven prostheses were fitted. The reduced numbers are reportedly due to a lack of logistical support to transport and maintain patients at the workshop; a service that was previously provided by the ICRC. The workshop reportedly has a shortage of technical staff, with only two orthopedic technicians who also act as physiotherapists. The Ministry of Health has provided Ug. Shs 20,000,000 (approx. US$20,000) to run the workshop.[42] Some of the patients were landmine survivors, but Landmine Monitor was unable to determine the exact number.

In 2002, the Gulu regional orthopedic workshop, with support from the NGO AVSI, produced 180 prostheses and fitted 128, and produced 357 crutches and 16 other devices. Of those fitted with a prosthesis, 29 were landmine survivors.[43] In Mbale regional orthopedic workshop, 678 people were assisted; 18 received prostheses, and 40 received crutches. No landmine survivors were assisted in 2002.[44]

The Italian NGO Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale (AVSI) continued its program in thirteen districts of northern Uganda. The medical rehabilitation program includes first aid training, and psychosocial support for war victims, and supports the Gulu regional orthopedic workshop. In 2002, the program assisted 350 people, including 59 mine survivors. The majority of mine survivors were from Gulu (29) and Kitgum (15) districts. The program provided 191 prostheses, and distributed 106 crutches, 161 other devices, and 12 wheelchairs. The program was funded by AVSI ($120,080 in 2002), who works with other partners including the Ugandan Ministry of Health’s Rehabilitation Desk, local authorities, local and national associations for persons with disabilities, CPAR, Norwegian Refugee Council, and the World Food Program.[45]

In September 2001, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) started an 18-month integrated mine awareness and survivor assistance program in northern Uganda. The program, which ended in March 2003, assisted at least 477 landmine survivors with socioeconomic reintegration activities and psychosocial support.[46] In Gulu district, 40 health workers and 15 Community Development Assistants were trained in counseling skills, 100 family members of mine casualties received training in counseling and first aid, and 23 local leaders from four sub-counties were trained to support landmine survivors. Vocational training, which included tailoring and carpentry, was provided to 112 landmine survivors. Trainees were also provided with start-up equipment for small businesses. A mid-term evaluation of the program reported that the provision of vocational training had improved household incomes. Fifty landmine survivors were provided with revolving grants to start income generating activities. In addition, 277 households with mine survivors were provided with seeds and farm implements.[47]

Since December 2001, in Kasese district, the training of first level health care providers in emergency first aid has been funded by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and CPAR as part of the CPAR program. Thirty first-level health workers have been trained. Due to limited funding, however, the goal of training 60 emergency first aid health workers and providing sufficient medicine and equipment to health units was not realized.[48]

The NGO AMNET-R runs a rehabilitation center at the Zebedde Vocational College in South Rwenzori. The program assists war victims, including landmine survivors, and provides physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, vocational training, and a micro-credit scheme.[49]

In Kasese district, the Kitende Hostels Project has assisted landmine survivors since 1998. Since 2001, survivors have been taken to the nearby Fort Portal Regional Workshop, about 60 kilometers from Kasese district, for the fitting of prostheses. By June 2002, 74 people had benefited from the program, which covers all the expenses of transport, food, fitting and hospital charges.[50] Updated information on activities for the entire year were not yet available.

The CARITAS Gulu branch provides emergency medical care and socioeconomic reintegration in northern Uganda. The annual budget is Uganda Shillings 20,000,000 (US$10,750).[51] The program assists mine survivors, but the exact number aided in 2002 is not known.

Local NGOs are also assisting landmine survivors to form associations and become self-sustaining. In Kasese district, through the encouragement of AMNET-R, landmine survivors in Mukunyu sub-county formed the Mukunyu Landmine Survivors Association, which is engaged in a number of income-generating projects, including growing coffee seedlings, and knitting products for sale. Future plans include acquiring a grinding machine and a generator for grinding locally produced grains at a fee. The association has about 20 members.[52]

In northern Uganda, Margaret Arach, a landmine survivor and co-chair of the ICBL Working Group on Victim Assistance, is actively involved in promoting mine victim assistance both in Uganda and internationally. In 2002, Arach, a graduate of the Raising the Voices initiative, represented mine survivors at the G6B Summit in Calgary, Canada in June, the 5th Anniversary of the Oslo treaty negotiations in September, the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September, the Africa Peace Summit in Johannesburg in October, a speaking tour to schools in Los Angeles in November, and the 5th Anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa in December. In August 2002, Arach helped create the Lira Landmine Survivors Association (LILASA) in Kampala. Although initially planned for women mine survivors, it is now open to all landmine survivors, and other persons with disabilities. LILASA has 46 members.[53]

Disability Policy and Practice

Uganda has comprehensive legislation on disability issues.[54] However, a number of interest groups are urging the government and other stakeholders to improve opportunities for people with disabilities. For example, the Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities requested that the Government consider giving people with disabilities protection and priority when delivering relief services in war affected areas, and that disabled soldiers are re-integrated into the army or community.[55]

[1] The Article 7 Report had not been posted on the UN website when Landmine Monitor went to print. Therefore, information from the report is not included in this edition of Landmine Monitor Report 2003.
[2] Telephone interview with Capt. Kagoro Asingura, UPDF, 26 January 2003.
[3] Article 7 Report, Forms B and D, 24 May 2002. Details on the types and numbers of mines are in the report, as well as Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 501.
[4] Statement by Dora Kutesa, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003 (Landmine Monitor notes).
[5] Statement by Dora Kutesa, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 15 May 2003 (Landmine Monitor notes).
[6] Anne Mugisha, “Uganda Destroys Mines Near Lake,” The New Vision, Vol. 18, No. 162, 8 July 2003.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Article 7 Report, Form D, 24 May 2002.
[9] Email from John McBride, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to Kerry Brinkert, Implementation Support Unit, 29 July 2003. McBride indicates that perhaps eight of the mines were naval mines.
[10] Telephone interview with Capt. Kagoro Asingura, UPDF, Kampala, 6 July 2003; telephone interview with Francis Wanyana, member of the National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Kampala, 2 July 2003.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 115; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 163-166.
[12] Statement by Uganda Head of Delegation, Lt. Col. Ramandhan Kyamulesire, Ministry of Defense, to the Third Meeting of States Parties, Managua, Nicaragua, 19 September 2001, as reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 501-502.
[13] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 502.
[14] Yoweri Museveni, “Operation Iron Fist, Balance Sheet,” New Vision, 25 August 2002, pp. 4-5.
[15] Dennis Ojwee “UPDF seizes 150 LRA guns in camp raid,” New Vision, 4 November 2002, pp. 1-2.
[16] Interview with Capt. Wilson Kabeera, Field Engineer, 4th Division, UPDF, Gulu, 6 March 2003.
[17] UN Sudan CAP, October 2002.
[18] Emmy Allio and Chris Ochowun, “Museveni deploys mine sweepers,” New Vision, 16 August 2002, pp. 1-2.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Email from Eddie Mworozi, Coordinator UCBL, who coordinated the MAG assessment, 12 July 2003.
[21] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 503.
[22] CIDA, “Mid-term Evaluation of the Integrated Mine Action Program for Northern Uganda,” September 2002.
[23] AVSI Mine Action Program, “Updated report on landmine issues in Northern Uganda,” January 2003. The “others” included: 130 NGO staff, three catechists, 40 reverends, 40 Uganda Red Cross Volunteers, 174 local council officials, 33 youth counselors, and 200 community members.
[24] AVSI, “Landmine issues in Northern Uganda,” January 2003.
[25] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 503.
[26] UN Mine Action Investments Database; see also, Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 503.
[27] CIDA, “Mid-term Evaluation,” September 2002.
[28] Interview with Capt. Wilson Kabeera, UPDF, Gulu, 6 March 2003; AVSI, “Landmine issues in Northern Uganda,” January 2003.
[29] Interview with Dr. Henry Ayo, St. Mary’s Hospital, Lacor, 19 November 2002; interview with Dr Martin Ogwang, Surgeon, St. Mary’s Hospital, Lacor, 17 April 2003; hospital medical records for 2002.
[30] Interviews with Dr. Felix Kaducu, Medical Superintendent, Gulu Regional Hospital, 18 November 2002 and 17 April 2003; Hospital medical records for 2002.
[31] Interview with Dr. Dube Goodwill, Medical Superintendent, Gulu Independent Hospital, 19 November 2002; interview with Mathew Lamoro, Acting Medical Superintendent, Gulu Independent Hospital, 17 April 2003; hospital medical records for 2002.
[32] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire from Michelle Ell, Project Officer, and C.J. Lamb, M & E Officer, CPAR Uganda, 10 April 2002.
[33] “Museveni Deploys mine sweepers,” New Vision, 16 August 2002, pp. 1-2.
[34] Interview with Dr. Alex Layo, Medical Officer, Kitgum Hospital, Kitgum, 17 April 2003; hospital medical records for 2002.
[35] “Land mine deaths,” Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, 11 June 2003.
[36] “Ituri Braces for Ugandan Pullout,” IRIN, 17 April 2003.
[37] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 504.
[38] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 168.
[39] Ibid, p. 169.
[40] Uganda Ministry of Health, “Health Sector Strategic Plan 2000/2001–2004/05,” 5 August 2000.
[41] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003, p. 109.
[42] Interview with Dr. Shaban Abdallah, Resident Surgeon, Fort Portal Regional Hospital, and Patrick Oidi, Orthopedic Technician and Workshop Manager, Fort Portal Orthopedic Workshop, 29 April 2003.
[43] Interview with Omara Kennedy Ag, Workshop Manager, Gulu Regional Orthopedic Workshop, 18 November 2002; interview with Emmanuel Kalanzi, Workshop Manager, Gulu Regional Orthopedic Workshop, 17 April 2003.
[44] Interview with David Muzira, Senior Orthopedic Technician, and Grace Ogwang, Orthopedic Assistant, Mbale Regional Workshop, 22 January 2003.
[45] Email from Davide Naggi, Program Coordinator, AVSI Gulu; response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by AVSI (provided to Landmine Monitor Italy), 15 March 2003; AVSI, “Landmine issues in northern Uganda,” January 2003.
[46] Interview with Otenya Alex, Program Officer, CPAR, Gulu, 17 April 2003.
[47] CIDA, “Mid-term Evaluation,” September 2002. The final evaluation has not been carried out.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Ray R. Musinguzi, “Landmines, A Silent War Still On,” New Vision, 25 November 2002; see also ICBL, Portfolio of Landmine Victim Assistance Programs, available at www.landminevap.org.
[50] Interview with Aaron Mukababebwa Muhindo, Coordinator, Landmine Victim Program, Kitende Hostels Project, Kasese, 15 June 2002.
[51] Interview with Walter Anywar, Coordinator, CARITAS, Gulu, 19 November 2002.
[52] Interview with Wilson Bwambale, Coordinator, AMNET-R, Kasese District, 22 November 2002.
[53] Interview with Margaret Arach, co-chair, ICBL Working Group on Victim Assistance, Kampala, 16 December, 2002; telephone interview with Margaret Arach, 27 January 2003; email from Margaret Arach to Landmine Monitor (HIB), 18 June 2003.
[54] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 506.
[55] Milton Olupot, “MPs Appeal to army on landmine victims,” New Vision, 21 November 2002.