A significant crowd turned out on Saturday afternoon for the 5th annual GULUWALK, an international peace walk hosted in over 60 cities around the world. The walk aims to compel world leaders to take action to disarm the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and free the children of central and east Africa from the risk of abduction by the rebel force whose ranks swell with forcibly conscripted child soldiers.
The walk hosted in Washington, D.C., focused on generating support from members of Congress for the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (bill 1067 in the Senate and 2478 in the House). The bill dedicates resources to both protecting the civilians against the LRA and rebuilding areas devastated by attacks.
It has been over two decades since the LRA started abducting children in northern Uganda. The rebel group is responsible for the displacement of 2 million people and the abduction of more than 30,000 children and has now spread out across the region to eastern Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Michael Poffenberger, executive director of Resolve Uganda, the group responsible for organizing the walk in Washington D.C., said to the crowd, “We must try and get our leaders engaged because the last time Resolve Uganda was in northern Uganda, the major consensus of the people was that the conflict will not end until the international leaders get involved.” He emphasized that it is “the power of the people that are willing to show up and tell the story that makes change possible.”
Peace, a Ugandan woman who walked among the masses, commented, “I am impressed by the dedication to the cause from so many who have most likely never been to Uganda or parts of east Africa. I wish for more of my own people to participate and to see what is happening because they are the ones with the vested interest.” People from around the world walked Saturday for one purpose: to protect the citizens affected by this devastating war and to say enough. The LRA must be stopped and it will require international support.
With legislation gaining momentum in the U.S. Congress, now is the time to contact your senators and representative and urge them to co-sponsor the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.