Saturday, October 22, 2005

Uganda: "Jimmy" and Gulu Walk Day

Everybody loves a parade, except perhaps the one I want to write about today. This parade takes place every night on the rural roads of northern Uganda, where literally thousands of children and young adults walk in small groups for miles to a town named Gulu in order to seek shelter and safety from marauding bands of armed militias. These children have a label: Night Commuters.

Many of them make it, but not all. And the fate of the ones who do not reach the town of Gulu or Kitgum is too horrible to describe in any detail. The ones who do not make it many times are kidnapped and forced to fight as child soldiers for one of the most savage and crazed killers on the planet. His name is
Joseph Kony, and his militia is called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This parade of misery and naked fear has been going on all across northern districts of Uganda for more than 19 years, and the time is long overdue to put a stop to it.

So allow me to introduce you to some of those children and to the people around the world who are working very hard on their behalf. It is better that you see and hear and read for yourself about what’s going on in northern Uganda.

First let me introduce you to Jimmy, a young schoolboy who so eloquently and clearly explains what it is like to be a Night Commuter in Uganda. Jimmy is a 14-year old who walks every evening from his home village to the town of Gulu. He is afraid of being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army militias that have roamed, kidnapped, and murdered children in his area of the country since the time of his birth. The link below to a short online video interview with Jimmy is courtesy of independent video journalist
Ruud Elmendorp* of The Netherlands. One of my favorite moments in the video is when the journalist asks Jimmy what he would do if they would meet the (LRA) rebels on the road. Jimmy answers:

“If we meet them I would just give them some advice, I would tell them that they should stop fighting (pause), the government. They should come home so that we can join arm-in-arm to make peace in Uganda.”

Jimmy – Uganda: Any time the rebels can come to abduct children
Date: August 2005 URL:
Format: Windows Media File (.wmv), Length: 4 min. 15 sec, Size: 8.60 MB
Source: Ruud Elmendorp –
Video Journalist weblog, Ruud’s website

*More info about Ruud Elmendorp’s reports on Uganda can be found at his
Uganda Country page and Reporter’s Log. A selection of Ruud’s video reports on Africa can be found at his online video archives.


October 22nd, 2005 is the first ever
Gulu Walk Day. Two Canadian men and people around the world have organized several marches on behalf of the children of northern Uganda, the Night Commuters. These marches will be taking place in over 40 cities worldwide and are meant to help raise awareness about the plight of these children and to make A Call to Action. Visit the UgandaCAN site to learn more about Gulu Walk Day and how various organizations are working to help the child victims of this terrible 20-year war all across the northern districts of Uganda and beyond.

Following are additional resources that may help you to learn more:

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone from Yahoo! News
Blog post October 19th, 2005: Fighting a Phantom

Invisible Children – an exceptional documentary video and project website

International Crisis Group: Resources on conflict in northern Uganda
The conflict in Uganda presented on ABC News “Nightline”
August 2005
John Prendergast op-ed in the Washington Post – April 7, 2005
Building a comprehensive peace strategy for northern Uganda
June 23, 2005

Reuters AlertNet:
Crisis Profile -
What’s going on in northern Uganda – June 7, 2005
Rebels without a Cause” film by Daniel Simpson and Matthew Green

BBC News Online:
Uganda’s Atrocious War – June 12, 2003 (Warning: disturbing images)
Profile of Joseph Kony – October 7, 2005
Uganda rebel warrants confirmed – October 14, 2005

The Christian Science Monitor:
Africa’s Peace Seekers: Betty Bigombe – September 13, 2005

HRW Press Release “
Night Commuters” – August 22, 2005
Human Rights Watch video “
The Night Commuters
HRW online resources:

UN IRINnews Web Special on northern Uganda – January 2004
When the sun sets, we start to worry” - Overview

Bloggers writing regularly about Uganda:
Global Voices Online:
Uganda Watch by Ingrid Jones
P.Scott Cummins =The Urbane R:
Worldwide focus on the children of Gulu and Northern Uganda

Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, Uganda, Gulu, Acholi tribe, Yoweri Museveni

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sudan: The GI-NET and Spotlight on Darfur 2

I have today added a new badge from the Genocide Intervention Network to this blog (check the middle right-hand side of the homepage, above my blogroll). This new organization (formed in 2004) is working to “…empower citizens around the world with the tools to advance initiatives that help protect civilians from genocidal violence” (and death I would presume). The Genocide Intervention Network has come up with the radical idea of providing private funding from the collection of international donations to the African Union peacekeeping forces stationed in Darfur and/or to those forces scheduled for operations in Darfur.

I can’t say that I would support such an approach vs. pressuring UN member countries to live up to their responsibilities and promises already made to the people of Darfur and to the people of the world, but you have to admit it is a novel idea. BTW,
their list of sponsors and supporters is quite impressive, and it is growing. According to information displayed on the GI-NET site homepage:

“Today as genocide rages in Darfur, Sudan, the world stands by, failing the vow of “never again” that it made after the Holocaust and reaffirmed after the Rwandan genocide. The genocide in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced 2,500,000 people. Five hundred people continue to die each day; fifteen thousand die every month.”

Some of my readers know that I have written a number of posts and comments to this blog and others about Sudan and Darfur. Pay a visit to the
GI-NET site or the Coalition for Darfur blog or the Save Darfur site to find out what you can do before there is no time left to be able to do anything at all to help these suffering people.

Spotlight on Darfur 2 at the Live from the FDNF blog is a new collection of posts from bloggers focusing on the continuing atrocities taking place in Darfur. Somehow I missed the news about this blogging event on October 17th but it is never too late to go back and read what blog authors, professional journalists, and others have to say about this human catastrophe playing out before our eyes everyday. The Government of Sudan’s murderous crusade against their very own people goes unhindered by any form of meaningful intervention. Forever Again.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Earthquakes and Floods: South Asia to the Americas

One cannot help but to be saddened yet again by the massive loss of life, homes, livelihoods, and possessions experienced by people from Pakistan and India to Guatemala as a result of natural disasters. The BBC News is reporting that as many as 20,000 children may have lost their lives in the remote northern provinces of Pakistan due to the earthquake, and surely the number of people washed away in the floodwaters raging in Central America’s rural towns and villages is painfully high. Let’s face it, 2005 has not been a good year for the survival of life on Earth. Neither was 2004 come to think about it.

Global Voices Online:
bloggers respond to the big quake:
Pakistan South Asia
bloggers respond to aftermath of hurricane Stan: Central America
Rob Mercatante’s Guatemala Journal: Anger at Slow Aid

BBC News Online:
In Depth
The South Asia Quake, Reporters Log South Asia (Day 3)
Guatemala villages mass graves

CNN International:
Guatemala landslide areas considered mass graves

Aljazeera Online (interesting reader comments section):
Quake survivors wait for Relief (South Asia)