10 December 1997
(Speaks to victims of 'Lords' attacks in Uganda) (600) By Sara Stryker and Jim Fisher-Thompson USIA Staff Writers GULU, Uganda -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright December 10 advanced the theme of people-to-people contact that has marked her first official visit to Africa by telling victims of terrorism here that their attackers are "fighting the tide" of progress. Albright told a gathering of staff and patients at Lacor Hospital in northern Uganda that "the future of a nation -- its young people -- is under assault here, and with it the future of a continent whose youth have for too long borne the brunt of conflict." In order to help the roughly 300,000 people who have been displaced in fighting by the insurgency movement "The Lord's Resistance Army," the Secretary of State announced an assistance package of approximately $4.2 million for the Gulu region. Noting that "those who are responsible for this terrorism...clearly have not destroyed the will of the people," the official said, "It is my hope that these grants will help Ugandan and Sudanese villagers emerge from years of poverty and suffering with new hope -- and new self-reliance." Albright condemned the insurgency movement that has abducted as many as 10,000 children in recent years, declaring that "those who are responsible for this terrorism -- the Lord's Resistance Army and their Sudanese backers -- destroy villages. They abduct and enslave children too young to know what death is. And they have massacred thousands of men, women, and children." But she added that "these terrorists are fighting the tide in Uganda and in Africa; and they are up against the slow but certain advent of stability in this country, and a determination around the region to be done with bloodshed and get on with rebuilding." With that in mind, the secretary of state said the United States "will stand with the government of Uganda as it takes strong measures to improve the security of Ugandans, particularly children. We will stand with the region in a joint effort to contain the threat of Sudan-sponsored terrorism and the dangers that it poses." Albright told her audience: "As we observe International Human Rights Day today, let us rededicate ourselves to the struggle against those who value human life so cheaply. And we must take up the cause of the victims of these abuses, not just to care for them but to help them to return to productive lives." To help in that effort the secretary of state announced that the United States will provide $2.2 million worth of American wheat to the non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vision in support of its activities in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. She explained that "World Vision will sell this wheat locally and use the proceeds to support increased farm production, and development of farming skills, for the people of the region." Albright added that the U.S. government will also create a $2 million endowment for Lacor Hospital, to be managed by investment professionals. "It will help give the hospital the secure financial future it needs to provide the services we saw today," she said. In saying her goodbyes, Albright told the Ugandans: "This has been a very moving visit for me. In each of us there is the possibility to be a beast but also the possibility to reach for the stars. But in being here one can see the victims of the 'beast' nature of people and yet one can see the reaching for stars in all of you."