Friday July 25 2014

Let’s pick lessons from global wars

By Jaffer Senganda

The last three years has seen an increase in global armed conflicts with the prominent ones being the Arab Spring, which has caused deaths and untold suffering. Armed conflicts have not spared the Great Lakes region; we have seen prolonged armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Armed conflicts present an extraordinary challenge for the development sector as it has a direct impact on the levels of investment, productivity, welfare issues like healthcare, education, among others. This no doubt worsens unemployment, which is itself a threat to our national security.

It is sad to see once flourishing countries reduced to nothing: infrastructure ruined, widespread human rights abuses, indiscriminate killings, refugee crisis, etc. These unfortunate events must and should be a lesson to Ugandans and they should be amplified by all those in circles of influence and community leaders.

We should promote dialogue in situations where we have differences and reconciliation where we have been wronged. In the worst case, we should at least resort to nonviolent action to air out our grievances. It is also important to note that where people have resorted to violent means to express their dissatisfaction, there has been more suffering.

Research has shown that at least 740,000 people die directly or indirectly as a result of armed violence every year. A relatively small proportion of these deaths – approximately one third - are attributed to armed conflicts and preventable illnesses affecting the vulnerable in war zones.

Irrespective of where armed violence occurs, victims and survivors are affected by pain, suffering and trauma long after the fighting stops.
These global events have demonstrated how armed violence obstructs development across many fronts. It greatly compromises the skills and assets that are essential to living a productive life and shortens planning and investment horizons.

Also, armed conflicts and violent actions disable the basic political, social and financial institutions required to ensure stability. The government should, therefore, have a deliberate policy to promote honest dialogue with different players on contentious national issues. This will mitigate cases of violent action, including armed conflicts.