Remember these kids?
They are the Night Commuters of northern Uganda:
"Each night before the sun sets, thousands of children march in grim procession along dusty roads that take them from their rural villages to larger towns. The children are afraid to sleep in their beds, terrified that they will be abducted by a madman who will force them into a marauding guerrilla army that hunts down their friends, families, and loved ones.
The fleeing children sleep in churches, empty schools, makeshift shelters, and alleyways. And every morning at sunrise, the children walk home, free for another day."
And they are among the reasons why this is such wonderful news:
"With whoops and backslaps, Uganda's government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels signed a ceasefire on Saturday, a big step towards a final peace settlement to one of Africa's longest-running wars.
"It is the laying down of arms. It is the end of the war," U.N. envoy Joaquim Chissano said after the parties signed the "permanent ceasefire" agreement during their fast-progressing talks in southern Sudan's capital Juba.
With only a demobilization deal left to be agreed on, negotiators and mediators like Chissano are predicting a final accord will be reached next week to end one of the world's most macabre and least-understood conflicts.
After a tortuous process since talks began in mid-2006, the speed of progress in recent days has taken observers by surprise, particularly after the LRA delegation walked out at one point this week in a row over cabinet jobs and cash.
The LRA revolt against President Yoweri Museveni since 1986 has devastated north Uganda, killed tens of thousands of people, uprooted nearly 2 million, and become infamous for the brutal methods of the rebels including mutilating victims. (...)
The news from Juba will be music to the ears of the long-suffering Acholi population of north Uganda, who have borne the brunt of the conflict. They have suffered not only from rebel attacks and forced recruitment of children, but also from rape and other abuses by Uganda's military at refugee camps."
An estimated 66,000 children have been abducted by the LRA. Thousands more -- at times, tens of thousands -- walked for miles every night to avoid being kidnapped. This has been an unspeakable war (I wrote about it at greater length here), and if it is in fact over, we should all rejoice. There are very few bits of unequivocal good news in the world, but this is surely one of them.