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Northern Uganda: U.S. Engagement to Achieve Peace Incremental, Yet Promising

Several recent developments, including Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's visit to Washington, D.C., demonstrate increased U.S. involvement to bring peace to the war-battered region.

November 2007

President Bush shakes hands with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during their meeting at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently met with President Bush at the White House, where a variety of issues — from AIDS to economic development — were discussed. During this important meeting, Bush also encouraged efforts to resolve the decades-long conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army and the government of Uganda.

Many have advocated and prayed for greater support for peace negotiations in this war-torn region. Recent developments lend to optimism that the prayers of millions are being answered.

Peace Advocates Encouraged by Crisis Mention

Reuters reported that during their meeting, Bush asked Museveni for his assessment of the situation on the ground; they then had a discussion about the need for the peace talks to go forward.

Groups advocating for peace in the region, including World Vision, are encouraged that the northern Uganda crisis was part of the dialogue that took place between the two leaders.

"We are pleased that President Bush mentioned the ongoing conflict in his recent meeting with President Museveni," says Rory E. Anderson, World Vision's senior policy advisor for Africa. "However, continued high-level U.S. government engagement, coupled with resources for relief and development in northern Uganda, will be essential to ending the crisis and securing prosperity for the entire region."

Senate Hearing Shines Light on Crisis

Another positive indicator of U.S. engagement on these issues was the recent Senate Hearing on Peace and Democracy in the African Great Lakes Region — of which Uganda is part — led by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee. Feingold has long been an advocate for peace in northern Uganda; his recent trip in August to both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Uganda prompted him to hold this important hearing. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was also present at the hearing.

Feingold played a significant role in raising points to address during Musevini's White House visit by sending a letter of critical issues for the president to highlight.

'Compassionate Voices' Help Garner Attention

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer recently appointed Timothy Shortley as senior adviser for conflict resolution to focus diplomatic attention on the northern Uganda peace process as well as other crises in Africa's Great Lakes region.

World Vision sees this appointment as a positive step toward increased U.S. engagement in the peace process. Anderson believes that both the appointment of Shortley and the Senate hearing are products of the ongoing advocacy work being carried out by grassroots relief and development organizations and their constituents.

"Two years ago, there was little policy attention addressing the cause of the suffering of children in northern Uganda," says Anderson. "But the compassionate voices of World Vision donors and their partners has made the U.S. government pay attention and take action to end this long-ignored crisis — and one important step has been to appoint staff who are now dedicated to this important issue."

Learn More

>> Request a Children of War Mobilizer's Toolkit. This comprehensive DVD toolkit includes a compelling documentary, a guide to effective advocacy, a reading list, posters to advertise your event, and more. You can use it to host discussion groups or an event to raise awareness and take action on this issue.

Three Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for the children and families trapped in the middle of this conflict. Now that northern Uganda has reached a threshold at which sustainable peace is possible, pray for a successful negotiation that would receive strong international support, and pray for healing and reconciliation in communities that will be receiving former child soldiers.
>> Wisconsin residents: Send a message of thanks to Sen. Feingold. Applaud him for his leadership to increase U.S. involvement in the northern Uganda peace process.
>> Send a message to Congress and the president asking for increased humanitarian assistance for northern Uganda and continued support from the United States to help ensure that the peace talks are successful.
>> Make a monthly financial pledge to help provide for the needs of children affected by war.

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