I don't mean to be offensive...Tonight many of my friends will be participating in an event called, Displace Me. I first heard about it on the internet. Several of my friends were posting bulletins on MySpace about it. At first I didn't give the bulletins much thought...I usually don't read bulletins anyway. But after hearing about it so much, I finally had to see what this event was all about. Here's what I learned:
"The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has abducted thousands of children, subjected them to torture or sexual violence and forced them to fight in a violent guerilla army for 21 years—making it the longest running war in Africa. In hopes of providing protection from this rebel militia, the Ugandan government forcibly evicted its Northern citizens from their homes—giving them 48 hours to relocate into camps. Today, more than 1.5 million Northern Ugandans remain far from secure, suffering nearly 1,000 deaths per week due to inhumane living conditions in the camps. Alcoholism, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, inadequate sanitation and lack of education have caused immeasurable damage to two generations and the near-total destruction of Acholi culture. Water is scarce and people are reliant on food to be delivered by foreign aid. If the food isn’t delivered, the people starve. This April, the already meager rations delivered by the World Food Program to the camps will be cut in half due to lack of funding—with school feeding programs and support for HIV/aids victims soon to follow. This will indisputably increase the number of deaths among those already suffering from severe malnutrition—mostly among women, children and the elderly."
The point of Displace Me is to raise awareness of the war in Uganda and what the people who live Displacement camps go through. This is an overnight event where each person will spend the night outside sleeping in a cardboard box, and will receive rations of saltine crackers and water. During the evening they will hear the testimonials of some of those living in the camps, as well as other speakers chosen specifically for their personal connection to Northern Uganda. They will be asked to write letters to their senators and policy makers to encourage American involvement in ending the war and sending the people in the camps home.
To find out more information about Displace Me, click here.
As I read about this event, my heart went out to all of those people living in such inhumane conditions. The things these people experience are unthinkable. Over 66,000 children have been kidnapped, mutilated, used as sex slaves or as soldiers for the LRA. I want their suffering to end. I want to do something about this. I want to make a difference. And I wanted to participate in Displace Me too. But then I read about how they want to put an end to the war in Uganda...by writing letters to our senators and policy makers, requesting the United States to get involved in ending Uganda's war. And then I started to think about this...wait a minute...aren't we in a war right now? How many Americans are supporting the war in Iraq? The war in Iraq seems to lose more and more support daily....and yet we want to ask our government to get involved in another war? I think the only way Americans could be happy with the involvement of the United States ending the war in Uganda would be through the avenue of diplomacy and peace talks...and yet peace talks have been going on for years in regards to Uganda and the LRA, all of them failed attempts. Wikipedia quotes, "The LRA leadership has long stated that they would never surrender unless they were granted immunity from prosecution." So basically the LRA will only step down if they will not be charged for the inhumane crimes they've committed. Obviously after 20 years of war in Uganda, it's quite evident that the leaders of the LRA are not the type of people you can talk reason into. Other options? The U.S. could send in the military to annihilate the leaders of the LRA, BUT for years the LRA has been abducting Acholi children and forcing them to fight for them. Would I really want our military to fight against abducted children? Not really.
After looking at the situation from different angles, I have decided not to participate in Displace Me tonight, not for apathetic reasons, but because I'm not 100% on board with the solution being presented at the event tonight. I know several people will disagree with my decision, but I'm not really convinced that asking my government to get involved in another war, in addition to the widely unpopular and unsupported current war, is really the answer. So what's the solution? I'm not sure. I feel like I've asked more questions than I've been able to answer. One thing I would like to say though, just because I'm not sure what the solution should be, doesn't mean that I will not be doing anything about the war in Uganda. From this point on, I will do what I can to raise awareness of the conflict in Uganda.