AFJN Launches Uganda Conflict Action Network
"The Washington-based Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) today formally announced the launch of the Uganda Conflict Action Network to pressure the U.S. government to advocate and support peace negotiations to end the 19-year old war in northern Uganda, a war that has gone largely ignored by the western world. The grassroots campaign seeks to raise awareness among Americans in hopes of acting to support a peaceful resolution in Uganda as part of a greater movement for renewal and peace in the Great Lakes Region.
"The United States, through military aid and strategic alliances, has played a significant role in the persistence of this horrific war," said Peter Quaranto, the founding director of Uganda-CAN. "We are launching this project to demand that the U.S. play a larger role in advocating for and supporting peace initiatives on the ground."
The 19-year old war in northern Uganda has left more than 20,000 children abducted, tens of thousands of people maimed or killed, and 1.6 million people displaced into camps. Yet, it has remained one of the most forgotten crises in the world, according to recent reports by Reuters AlterNet, Medecins sans Frontieres and the United Nations. "The silence of the international community is equivalent to complicity in this unnecessary mass human tragedy," Quaranto stated.
Quaranto, along with Michael Poffenberger, both international peace studies students at the University of Notre Dame, founded Uganda-CAN. They were deeply moved by the realities they experienced in the north during their academic study abroad program in Uganda, sponsored by the School for International Training in Kampala. Quaranto remarked, "As I sat there listening to people in IDP camps telling me their stories, I just kept thinking to myself: how can this be happening? How can this have happened for 19 years?"
Uganda-CAN is working to build an effective, broad-based campaign that will raise awareness to mobilize people to action. The campaign has already launched a website that will present updated news about the conflict, research reports and action alerts. The staff and volunteers are working to form partnerships with key actors in Washington, both in Congress and other Africa-related organizations, while also linking with numerous Ugandan organizations. By August, the campaign hopes to have begun a nationwide awareness and mobilization tour.
Quaranto and the more than twenty-five committed volunteers working tirelessly on this campaign are hopeful. "Together, we have a real opportunity to push for action that could contribute to an end to this war," said Quaranto. "There is no more pressing or opportune moment to demand global governance that hears and answers to the suffering of the most poor and vulnerable of our world.
Learn more about Uganda-CAN at www.ugandacan.org."