Peace Beyond Reach
More than 700 people from 40 states gathered in Washington D.C. last week to urge the U.S. government and the international community to more visibly support peace in war-ravaged northern Uganda.
Since late August, a precarious cease-fire has been in place. The United Nations has described the conflict as "one of the worst human-rights crises of the past century."
"The once great optimism for a final end to this conflict is quickly dissipating. And with each passing day, more lives are put in danger," said Rep. Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), chairman of the House International Relations' Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations subcommittee.
"The U.S. must be more visible in helping to bring this terrible and despicable war to an end," Smith said. He has introduced a bill [HR 5966] to stop children from serving as soldiers in wars.
Twenty years of fighting between the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government has displaced nearly 2 million people. An estimated 30,000 children have been abducted into the LRA as child soldiers and forced to commit atrocities and serve as sex slaves. Last year, the International Rescue Committee reported that 1,000 people were dying every week from war-related violence, displacement, disease, and deplorable conditions in internally displaced persons camps.
"This war continues because the world continues to ignore it," said Rory Anderson, senior Africa policy adviser for World Vision. "Sudan was not a priority until people in the church mobilized. Northern Uganda will remain a low priority until Congress and the President hear from the public."
The NGO-sponsored event, "Peace Within Reach," began with an all-day symposium at George Washington University, where speakers ...