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Guardian article on the difficulties but also the potential of re-integrating former child soldiers back into their home villages: http://www.guardian.co.uk/journalismcompetition/resistance.army

United States appropriates quite a lot of money for reconstruction in Northern Uganda: http://www.resolveuganda.org/node/627 Major victory from Resolve Uganda's Lobby Days!

LRA continues attacks outside Uganda, Sudanese president's indictment by the International Criminal Court could interfere with Ugandan peace process, some warn: http://www.resolveuganda.org/node/646

Introducing Invisible Children's new interns and update on their successful letter-writing campaign: http://www.resolveuganda.org/node/619

Would like to encourage everyone to consider taking part in the Gulu Walk this October - not too early to think about planning the event at your school or campus or city park. Money goes to organizations on the ground in Uganda delivering services to civilians who need it.

Also - are there any organizations accepting book donations for schools or orphanages or libraries in Uganda? I help organize a variety webzine and we could certainly collect books, maybe send them over with someone here who's planning to travel to Uganda to volunteer this fall to save on shipping?
20 July 2008 @ 03:20 pm
I have been meaning to post an update of the situation in northern Uganda for a while now, for people's information, but am just working so so so hard that I don't get much time for anything else. I'm not sure how much people know, but there was supposed to be a big signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the LRA in April this year in Juba (southern Sudan) that failed - Kony (LRA leader) never showed and it turned out that the LRA negotiator in the mediations had never actually met or spoken with Kony, and was not speaking for him, as he had claimed.

Although there has been no resumption of open conflict in the north following this, small skirmishes have been reported, as have isolated LRA sightings. Additionally, it has had a profound impact upon the IDP (Internally Displaced People - most people in the north fit into this category - IDPs are refugees who have not crossed an international border - they are displaced within their own country - like the Sudanese living in camps in Darfur). People are more fearful - there has been a slow but steady transition of people from the large mother camps to smaller resettlement/return camps which still offer the safety of an army presence, but are closer to original homestead and thus allow some access to their land to farm. These movements are creating a whole new situation on the ground (which is a whole different posting topic!) but people are now reluctant to move from the return camps all the way home, and those that have gone home, or are at the return camps are constantly prepared to flee back to the mother camps. I have noticed slightly more (not much, but a bit) troop movement in the north in the past few months. Another tragic thing is the impact this development has on the psychological recovery of former child soldiers - they are now more fearful with a potential return to conflict - those that have escaped the LRA are at greater danger or reprisal from the rebels.

Anyway - the Secretary General of the UN released a report on Children in Armed Conflict in Uganda - I thought I would post an excerpt here so you can read. Long story short: it aint over yet - all the abducted children are out of reach in Sudan and Congo and they're not being released. We still need your thoughts/hopes/efforts/prayers:

25 June 2008 – Although the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) does not seem to be recruiting children in Uganda, women and children are still present in its ranks, and the rebel group is allegedly enlisting young people from neighbouring countries, according to a United Nations report released today.

The LRA, which has fought a civil war with the Ugandan Government since the mid-1980s, became notorious during the conflict for abducting as many as 25,000 children and using them as fighters and porters. The children were often subject to extreme violence shortly after
abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape.

“Owing to the apparent absence of LRA from Ugandan territory, there have been no recent cases of recruitment and use of Ugandan children, or other grave violations against children
attributable to LRA,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a new report to the Security

“However, children and women are still present in the LRA ranks, and there has been no movement on their release,” he adds.

In addition, he notes there are reports alleging that the group has been recruiting children
from southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).

In one case, three boys from the Sudan and the CAR who escaped from the LRA reported that they had been forced to work for the group as porters. They also reported that girls were present in the ranks, and that they were regularly subjected to gender-based violence, including rape.

On 23 April, authorities in Dungu in eastern DRC reported that 13 people, including four students, were abducted from a primary school following LRA attacks.

“These allegations are being reported while the peace talks between LRA and the Government of Uganda are stalled, notably because of the refusal by the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, to sign the final peace agreement,” Mr. Ban writes.

Last July the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict called on the LRA
to unconditionally release children used in their ranks, and underlined the absence of any
concrete signs in this regard.

The Group also noted the International Criminal Court indictments against five senior members of the LRA – the leader Joseph Kony, and the commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya – on a number of charges, including the enlistment of children through abduction.

The rebel group has maintained that it had released all children and women abducted or
forcibly conscripted some time ago and that those who remained in the bush were women and
children related to LRA members.
Mr. Ban says that this information cannot be independently verified because of the absence of
any direct contacts between the UN and the LRA leadership.

The Secretary-General urges the LRA to provide a complete list of names and ages of the women
and children remaining in its ranks for verification and to carry out their immediate release.

In addition, he says the UN Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting in Uganda, the CAR, the
DRC and the Sudan, in cooperation with the UN missions in the DRC and Sudan, should develop a strategy to increase monitoring and reporting on cross-border recruitment and use of children by the LRA.
Current Location: Kampala
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Current Music: Cautioners - Jimmy Eat World
Hi, I've started a new literary/cultural/artistic/travel writing webzine, tentatively called Chaos Theory, but probably about to be changed to Synchronized Chaos, or something similar. Several well-connected people and I are working on this and we hope for a fairly large distribution and cultural presence.

Would love to invite anyone in this community to submit some kind of Uganda-related or social-justice or peace-related article. Something maybe more like a feature, more in depth - maybe a photographic travel essay and commentary from someone who's been there and can speak on the culture and environment? Or a human interest article on some aspect of the country, or a short story inspired by Uganda, or an informed essay on some policy matter from an unusual perspective.

Here's the information on Chaos Theory, from Facebook:

This is all of our new brainchild, an art/cultural/literary/scientific/social commentary/essay zine tentatively called "Chaos Theory" (referring to some kind of not-obviously-apparent logic that emerges spontaneously from randomnity, basically a fun way to have a theme without having a theme.)

Sort of a way to help the aspiring artists we constantly meet to get their names out there and spotlight some excellent work which should have an audience but the artists don't want to go through the publication process. And to give people committed to worthwhile causes a way to speak out or to use their personal experiences to educate others.

Everyone's invited to submit (and everything will be accepted, unless it's obscene or hateful). If you are interested please send a submission via email anytime this summer.

I know some people who can help with the technical aspects of putting together a web zine and we should have a finished product by this fall/winter.

We're also chaos_zine on LJ - and I would love to see some kind of informative or inspirational piece on Uganda for this summer's inaugural issue!
I just wanted to tell you all - all of you who supported Books for
Burma, that it was a huge success in the end. We ended up receiving more books than we knew what to do with! :) And it's all thanks to your donations.

I must admit, this message comes with another motive as well as a much overdue 'Thank You'.

Currently, I am attempting to raise the funds to travel to northern
Uganda in exactly two weeks. For the first half of the trip, I'll be traveling with a small team, working with Children of the nations in the IDP camps of Lira. We'll be focusing on medical needs, art therapy, and physical education, working with children of all ages as well as former child soldiers.

At the end of that adventure, I'll be traveling back to the south,
saying farewell to my team as they return home, and meeting up with a small group of fellow roadies and interns from Invisible Children Inc.

The rest of the trip will be spend back in the north, in Gulu visiting the schools that are part of the Invisible Children's Schools for Schools program, and getting the chance to meet the mentors and Invisible Children Ugandan staff.

Here's where I need help.
I've been panhandling with my guitar in front of grocery stores, asking friends and family, and organizing yard sales, but I'm still short and have exactly two weeks left.

Yellow Fever vaccine + Malaria pills: $190
Plane Ticket + CotN housing and food: $3257
Week between CofN & Invisible Children: $245
Invisible Children housing and food: $550
Month of extra spending: $100
Uganda Visa: $50

That's a total of: $4,392

Even $5 would be a small help - Just think of it as going without
buying Starbucks for a few days.
Or that pack of gum while waiting in line at Target?

My PayPal Account is:

And if you're uncomfortable with PayPal, my address for this summer is:

Andie Miller
6057 Meade Ave.
San Diego, CA 92115

All checks should be made out to either 'Flood' or 'Invisible Children


You can also just donate money straight to Invisible Children:

Invisible Children
Attn: Andie Miller to Uganda
2705 Via Orange Way, Suite B
Spring Valley, CA 91978

And to keep up with the adventure, I'll be updating my blog:

As well as my 'Group':

Thank you again, and PEACE always.
Andie Miller
We are closer than ever before to a peace agreement in Northern Uganda, which would end warfare while calling upon the parties to the conflict to settle their economic differences via political means. However, northern rebel leader Joseph Kony has retreated from the negotiating table and as of yet refuses to sign the peace agreement. Many worldwide humanitarian groups have signed a statement encouraging him to return to the negotiations and work out something on paper without violence that would be workable and profitable for the north as well as the south.

From Resolve Uganda:

Yesterday, more than 30 humanitarian, faith-based and advocacy organizations from around the world united in a statement of support for efforts to salvage northern Uganda's peace process and to declare that there is still hope for peace in Uganda.

And today, I'm asking you to add your name to that impressive list.

Local leaders from northern Uganda, who have worked tirelessly to achieve peace for their people, will be trekking back into the jungle this weekend, perhaps for the last time, to meet with LRA leader Joseph Kony. They'll be trying to convince him to sign onto the final peace agreement that would formally end Uganda's 22-year war.

Their courageous perseverance is inspiring, and we want them to know that we stand in solidarity with them during this crucial time. Even if Kony ultimately does not sign, their efforts are key to ensuring that the progress achieved already in these negotiations isn't reversed.

You may click here to add your name to the list of those who request that Mr. Kony handle this issue through dialogue and political means rather than open warfare: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2241/t/2580/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1210

The peace process was making progress and all sides were drawing up an agreement - let's give it a chance.

John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-NRriHlLUk
21 April 2008 @ 03:10 pm
Hi everyone, wanted to give a shout-out to the Virunga Artisans, a group of women basket weavers in Uganda's Virunga region. http://www.virungaart.com/Products_U_Baskets.htm

This is a for-profit company so it is profitable and sustainable, and provides a fair-trade wage for its employees in a region where there are not many jobs. I believe strongly that we should support the development of sustainable businesses and the civil society in Uganda if we would like to see long term peace.

These baskets are not that expensive online and they were featured in the Worthington Gallery West in Pleasanton, CA (near where I live.) Some money from the purchase price goes towards conservation of the mountain gorillas in this area as well.

From one of the project's leaders:

Our little organization has had a profound effect on Nkuringo and we are starting to develop businesses in Rushamba and Mgahinga also. When we first started working with the ladies in Nkuringo they seemed so hopeless, just looking at their feet when we met with them. But they are all making a good living now, able to access the local health clinic and send more of their kids to school. Now when we go back they are so happy to see us and want to sing and dance for us…better than any paycheck I received in my corporate days! The young carvers are now making wonderful gorilla spoons that we are attaching to our Rwandan tea (still trying to source local Ugandan tea) and are also much more optimistic about the future.
Over the weekend met a gentleman from the International Christian Cycling Club (http://www.christiancycling.com) They're a group of people who race bicycles and put on pasta feeds and social events for the riders (usually everyone in a particular race, Christian or not.) He said they have chapters in Uganda and Kenya and they donate bicycles to Ugandans and do work to assist people in the country. Might be worth checking out what they do and how people could help.

I am sure they accept members and donations regardless of religious belief. This was started as the philanthropy aspect of a Christian bicycling club (as with a sorority, etc), but they would love to have everyone on board.
In my opinion one of the greatest actions anyone can take to lessen poverty and suffering in Uganda and elsewhere is to support international debt relief. This would reduce Uganda's payments to the IMF/World Bank (at no cost to the taxpayers of any country, would come out of IMF reserves) and free up more cash for education, healthcare, etc.

Letting them keep their own money is cheaper and more direct and faster than sending foreign aid, and other African countries have seen living standard improvements after receiving debt relief. School enrollment is up in Zambia, for example, and more people are receiving medical care who could never afford a doctor before.

Debt relief promotes global stability by strongly encouraging responsible lending to stable, human rights-respecting, elected governments rather than onetime warlords who spend and then get ousted, leaving others with the bills. Uganda already qualifies for some level of debt relief under the American Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, and calling to support the Jubilee Act tomorrow will enhance and expand debt relief.

Many wars are waged over economic concerns - making more resources available could make the conflict situation more stable and less desperate.

The Jubilee Act (HR 2634) will go before the House of Representatives for a floor vote Tuesday, April 15! Call your Representative today and ask him/her to vote "YES" on the Jubilee Act!

1. Find out who your Representative is by entering your zip code at www.house.gov (upper left corner).
2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

3. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office. The receptionist will answer. Introduce yourself as (your name), a constituent from (city, state). Ask to speak with the staff person who handles IMF/World Bank issues.

4. You will be connected with the staff person or their voicemail. Here's what to say:

"I am calling today to urge Representative________ to vote yes on the Jubilee Act (HR2634), which will be considered on the House floor Tuesday, April 15. This bill would expand eligibility for debt cancellation to poor nations that need the money to address extreme poverty. (If you'd like, add an additional sentence about why this issue is important to you). Do you know how Representative _________ plans to vote on the Jubilee Act?"
If the staff person doesn't know or if you are leaving a message, request that they call you back with the Representative's position.

5. Be sure to thank the staffer or receptionist when you finish.

6. Email Policy Fellow Danielle Pals at Jubilee with the results of your call at danielle@jubileeusa.org. Please let us know if the staff person had questions or needs additional information.

7. Thank you for taking action: Now, forward this message on to 10 friends & urge them to make the call too!!
Received this in my email today - from the ONE campaign, a coalition of mainstream groups, including Oxfam and World Vision, working for an end to extreme world poverty. I noticed the health educator mentioned works in Uganda and seems to be making a real difference in the country. I believe empowering people and helping them stay healthy and fed will go a long way towards rebuilding Ugandan society and making people less vulnerable to recruitment by violent groups.

There's a link people may click to sign a petition encouraging full U.S. funding for the PEPFAR fund, providing money to fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases worldwide. The organization mentioned in this email provides lifesaving antiretroviral drugs as well as medication and testing to prevent HIV-infected pregnant women from passing the virus on to their babies.

My name is Agnes Nyamayarwo. I'm a nurse, a mother and an activist living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

It has been more than a decade since I lost my husband, Augustine, and youngest child, Christopher, to AIDS; another son, Charles, ran away from home to escape the stigma of this disease.

Now I honor their memory through my work with an organization called TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) here in Kampala, Uganda. At TASO, I work with HIV/AIDS patients, orphans and mothers to try and save others from experiencing the pain I have.

I am also a member of the TASO Board of Trustees, representing the views of people living with HIV/AIDS in all the 11 centers of TASO across the country. You can learn more about TASO here.

Your work at ONE to make global AIDS an American priority has touched my heart. Last week, you asked your members of Congress to support the reauthorization of PEPFAR and fund the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria and you won.

Now PEPFAR goes to the U.S. Senate and I'm asking you to please sign ONE's petition and urge your senators to co-sponsor this lifesaving bill.


Tell your senators that a vote for this bill is a vote to provide TASO and other groups like ours with anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs and to help us in the all the work we do at the clinic and in neighborhoods across Kampala.

Two pills that cost only a few dollars a day can save a life. I know, because I take ARVs and I remember how sick I was before and am amazed at how strong I am now.
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Thank you for joining me,

Agnes Nyamayarwo, ONE Member
23 February 2008 @ 11:46 pm
Taken from Uganda Conflict Action Network:

"The Ugandan government and LRA delegations to the Juba peace talks signed a “permanent ceasefire” today, making it the third agenda item of the negotiations to be finalized within the last week. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is the only agenda item left to negotiate, and the parties were optimistic that a final deal could be inked by next week. The mood in Juba was jubilant, with UN envoy Joaquim Chissano calling today’s agreement the “end of the war.” There is no doubt that the permanent ceasefire is a historic step toward ending Africa’s longest running war, but crucial efforts remain to ensure compliance and implementation. The whereabouts of Joseph Kony remain unknown, and it is unclear whether the LRA chief trusts the LRA peace delegation and will abide by the recent flurry of agreements. Also, serious questions remain about the Ugandan government’s willingness to uphold and implement the accords."

For more information: http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnL23150811.html