TIME Uganda

U.S. Embassy Warns of Attack at Uganda’s International Airport

Airport Departure Lounge
Yongyuan Dai—Getty Images

"According to intelligence sources there is a specific threat to attack Entebbe International Airport by an unknown terrorist group today."

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda warned of a “specific threat to attack” the country’s only international airport Thursday evening.

The warning, posted to the Embassy website, says the Ugandan Police Force provided the embassy with information about a possible attack by an “unknown terrorist group” planned for between 9 and 11 p.m. local time at Entebbe International Airport, about 20 miles from the capital of Kampala.

“Individuals planning travel through the airport this evening may want to review their plans in light of this information,” the statement says.

Uganda is one of several countries, including neighboring Kenya, that have sent troops to bolster the government in Somalia. That’s put it in the sights of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, which opposes the military presence in Somalia. In 2010, an attack orchestrated by al-Shabab in Kampala killed at least 74 people. Last year, Shaaab militants stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, killing 67 people.

The statement from the Embassy also warned of the overarching terrorist threat in Uganda.

“U.S. Embassy Kampala wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the continued threat of potential terrorist attacks in the country,” the statement said. “The targets for these attacks could include hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, diplomatic missions, transportation hubs, religious institutions, government offices, or public transportation.”

TIME Uganda

U.S. Takes Action Against Uganda Over Anti-Homosexuality Law

People stand on a float holding signs saying 'Love Uganda, hate homophobia' in reaction to Uganda's law banning homosexuality in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 1, 2014.
People stand on a float holding signs saying 'Love Uganda, hate homophobia' in reaction to Uganda's law banning homosexuality in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 1, 2014. Jennifer Bruce—AFP/Getty Images

NSC spokesperson announced a range of sanctions targeted at Ugandans involved in human rights abuses and corruption

The United States unveiled a range of measures Thursday intended to punish Uganda for its worsening crackdown on homosexuals.

The White House canceled a joint military exercise due to be held there, and announced it would impose harsher visa restrictions on Ugandans involved in human rights abuses and corruption, and cut or redirect funds for a number of aid programs in Uganda.

“As President Obama has stated, the Government of Uganda’s enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “We announced in April a series of initial responses, and we have since considered how further to reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Senior administration officials told Reuters that the new measures will not affect HIV/AIDS and food programs that help local Ugandans, adding that the steps were specifically targeted at Ugandans involved in implementing the anti-gay law and ones guilty of corruption.

Hayden noted in the statement that the steps will not hinder the U.S.’s cooperation with the Ugandan government in countering the Lord’s Resistance Army—a militant movement accused of numerous human rights violations—and improving general security in Africa.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Reuters on Thursday that the announced cuts will not cause the government to amend its anti-gay laws.

“Uganda is a sovereign country and can never bow to anybody or be blackmailed by anybody on a decision it took in its interests, even if it involves threats to cut off all financial assistance,” he said.

Ugandan president Yoweri Musevini signed the anti-gay bill into law in February. Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes a life sentence for repeat offenders guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”

TIME Research

Researchers Hope ‘Super Bananas’ Will Combat Vitamin A Deficiency

If approved for cultivation, the genetically engineered fruit could revolutionize child health in much of the developing world

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Genetically engineered bananas, packed with micronutrients, are to undergo their first human trial in the United States to test their ability to battle rampant vitamin A deficiency — a large cause of infant death and blindness throughout low-income communities around the world.

“The consequences of vitamin A deficiency are dire with 650,000 to 700,000 children worldwide dying … each year and at least another 300,000 going blind,” the project leader, Professor James Dale from Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, told AFP.

The six-week trial backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation expects to have results by the end of the year and plans to have the bananas growing in Uganda by 2020.

Standard Ugandan bananas provide sustenance to East Africa but have low levels of nutrients such as iron and vitamin A. “Good science can make a massive difference here by enriching staple crops such as Ugandan bananas with pro-vitamin A and providing poor and subsistence-farming populations with nutritionally rewarding food,” said Dale.

Researchers infused the staple crop in Uganda with alpha- and beta-carotene — which the body turns into vitamin A — as an easy solution to the problem that plagues the country, but the same modification could be used on different crops as well. If the bananas are approved for growth in Uganda, other staple crops in Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya could also be engineered with micronutrients.

“In West Africa farmers grow plantain bananas and the same technology could easily be transferred to that variety as well,” Dale said.

[AFP]

TIME Uganda

Ugandan Nurse Jailed for Negligence Over HIV Exposure

Ugandan nurse Rosemary Namubiru sits at the dock at the Buganda Road Magistrates Court on May 19, 2014 in Kampala during a ruling on a case where she was charged with "Criminal Negligence" and sentenced to 3 years in prison after she was found guilty by the Ugandan court.
Ugandan nurse Rosemary Namubiru sits at the dock at the Buganda Road Magistrates Court on May 19, 2014 in Kampala during a ruling on a case where she was charged with "Criminal Negligence" and sentenced to 3 years in prison after she was found guilty by the Ugandan court. Isaax Kasamni—AFP/Getty Images

Rosemary Namubiru, who is HIV positive, claims she accidentally used a needle that she had pricked herself with on a baby, whose tests have not yet shown an infection as a result. Authorities found her guilty of negligence and sentenced her to three years in jail

Correction appended, May 22, 2014

A Ugandan nurse was sentenced on Monday to three years in jail for criminal negligence involving HIV exposure.

The court found Rosemary Namubiru, who is HIV positive herself, guilty of exposing a patient to the virus, the Associated Press reports.

Namubiru has maintained her innocence, saying she accidentally pricked herself with a needle she then used to give a baby an injection. The child’s mother realized the needle had not been changed and alerted authorities, after which Namubiru was immediately arrested. According to court records, two tests have shown the child was not infected with HIV. The nurse was denied bail as a magistrate ruled she posed a danger to the public.

International activists claimed Namubiru was the victim of discrimination because she is HIV positive, and said that her trial was unwarranted. Uganda is one of the 60 countries that criminalizes the intentional transmission of HIV. According to the Ugandan Ministry of Health, 7.3%of the population is HIV positive.

[AP]

Correction: The original version of this story misstated that Rosemary Namubiru intentionally spread HIV to a patient. She was found guilty of criminal negligence.

TIME TIME 100 Gala

Sister Rosemary Asks: ‘Where Are the Lost Girls?’

Challenging the world's "most influential" to help heal shattered lives

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At the Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring Center she runs in Gulu, Uganda, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe looks after women and girls who have seen much of the worst of what the world can dish out, offering a measure of shelter and security in a society riven by civil war.

At the TIME 100 Gala in New York City, she shared her good humor, infectious energy and deep compassion; but she also challenged her fellow “influentials” to join in the effort to heal the lives of women and children traumatized by brutality and fear.

 

TIME Joseph Kony

The Hunt for Ugandan Warlord Joseph Kony Just Got a Lot More Intense

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army answers journalists' questions in Ri-Kwamba, Sudan, on Nov. 12, 2006 Stuart Price—AFP/Getty Images

President Obama is adding about 150 special-operations personnel and four aircraft to the years-long pursuit of the Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, who has avoided detection as his ranks have ravaged large swaths of Central Africa

Military aircraft are for the first time to join an enlarged U.S. special-operations force in Uganda as President Barack Obama ramps up efforts to hunt down notorious warlord Joseph Kony.

CV-22 Osprey aircraft will arrive by midweek, along with refueling aircraft and some 150 Air Force special-operations personnel, according to the Washington Post. A total of 300 U.S. troops will now be stationed in the restive Central African state.

Kony, whose brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has spent years plundering villages, mutilating civilians and kidnapping children across large swaths of Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

LRA atrocities publicized on the Internet have sparked waves of revulsion around the world.

[Washington Post]

TIME Uganda

Ugandan Lawmaker Defends Controversial Anti-Gay Bill

The author of the bill said aid cuts were a price worth paying to preserve his country's values

The Ugandan lawmaker behind the African nation’s controversial new anti-gay bill said Monday that aid cuts imposed by disapproving Western allies were a price worth paying to “protect” his country’s values.

David Bahati, the legislator who initially sought the death penalty for some homosexual acts when the anti-gay bill was first introduced in 2009, told Reuters that he expected further aid suspensions and backlash following President Museveni’s approval of the bill last week.

The act introduced in late February imposes jail sentences of up to life on those found to have had gay sex. The World Bank, Norway and Denmark have all either withheld or diverted some $110 million in aid for Uganda. The U.S., which is the country’s largest Western provider of aid, is currently reviewing its ties.

“[The law] is very much worth it because it will protect our values. I think a society that has no moral values is a contradiction to development,” said Bahati.

Gay-rights campaigners say the new bill has forced many into hiding and report a rise in the number of night-time house raids and harassment since parliament first approved the law in December.

[Reuters]

TIME Uganda

Newspaper Outs 200 ‘Top’ Gays in Uganda

Newspaper Outs 200 ‘Top’ Gays in Uganda
A Ugandan reads a copy of the "Red Pepper" tabloid newspaper in Kampala, Uganda Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Rebecca Vassie—AP

After law enacted outlawing homosexuality

A Ugandan newspaper published a list of the country’s supposed “200 top” gay citizens on Tuesday, following enactment of a law outlawing homosexuality.

The Red Pepper, a tabloid based in the capital city Kampala, printed the list of names, some with photographs, beneath the headline “EXPOSED!”, the Associated Press reports. They include a Catholic priest, a hip-hop star and the prominent gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema. Some of the people on the list had not publicly described themselves as gay.

The story came after the government gave final approval legislation making homosexuality and the promotion of it a crime. Despite widespread international condemnation and threats by the United States that it would cut aid to Uganda if the country enacted the law, President Yoweri Museveni insisted it was necessary as a response to the interference of the West in Uganda’s affairs. He was quoted on Monday as saying he had been told “what they [gays] do is terrible,” describing them as “disgusting.”

[AP]

TIME Uganda

Uganda’s President Calls Homosexuality ‘Disgusting’ After Approving New Anti-Gay Laws

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni called homosexuals “disgusting,” moments after signing a bill bringing into law harsh measures against homosexuality, in an interview with CNN.

“What sort of people are they?” he asked in the interview. “I never knew what they were doing. I’ve just been told recently and what they do is terrible. Disgusting.”
Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries — including Uganda. But the new law signed by President Museveni goes further by toughening existing penalties for anyone caught having gay sex, criminalizing positive talk of homosexuality, and imposing jail terms of up to life in prison for any acts of “aggravated homosexuality.” Lesbians are included in the new prohibitions for the first time.

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