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February 26, 2007


hilzoy, how you have the psychological fortitude to seek out and pass on such information continues to amaze and humble me.

I despair for humanity when I read such things; the veneer of what we call "civilization" seems quite thin and fragile.

I can't imagine.

What on earth do you do with a story like this? It makes me simultaneously want to throw someone through a wall and to find one of these kids, hug them, and never let anything bad happen to them again. But I know I'm completely useless and there is nothing I can do that will ever change situations like this.

No one involved denies that the parties are primarily responsible for the conduct of the talks, but pretty much everyone seems frustrated that neither we nor the UN have done much of anything to help this process forward.

How do you go about changing that?

The media is not writing much about it. 23 hits on Google News.

Compared to 7,570 for “Scooter Libby” and 22,276 for “Anna Nicole Smith”. Nice.

A search of all web sites yields 157,000 hits: Some foreign press, a few TV news shows, and a bunch of humanitarian groups. (26.8 million for ANS).

The blogosphere has been successful at pushing much less significant issues into the MSM, but I don’t see that happening with something like this. Sadly, blogs are about politics more than anything else these days and if something doesn’t have a political angle for one side or the other there is no traction (present company excluded of course).

Technorati currently has only 743 hits for this search and many are just MySpace pages. Searching only blogs “with a lot of authority” yields 14 results.

Not a scientific study by any means but I’d say that public awareness of this issue is pretty minimal.

Not to be the pessimist – but short of a huge public outcry, attention from the UN or even just the US is not likely to happen.

Maybe a letter writing campaign to try to get local and regional papers and news shows to highlight the issue would have some impact?

More likely, what we need is for Madonna or Angelina Jolie to go and adopt a couple of these kids. That may get them some attention. Maybe Oprah could build them a school…

OCSteve: the lack of attention in the blogosphere is something I thought I could change, at least in my small corner of it.

More generally: we need to elect people who notice these things. And the best way I can think of for that to happen is to turn ourselves into an electorate who notice them. I admit it's hard, what with the endless media focus on Anna Nicole Smith, but hey, I think to myself: why not try?

The thing about the lack of media focus that really gets to me is: this is not an average day in the life of this story. The ceasefire expires the day after tomorrow. The talks have been disintegrating for months. Still, nothing, or next to nothing.

I think to myself: why not try?

keep at it.

it'll start sinking in, eventually.

The blogger most likely to follow this is Jonathan Edelstein of Head Heeb (link is the most recent post of his I could find on the topic via Google, but because his intra-blog search isn't working for me, there may well be more recent posts).

I gave a heads-up to this post in comments of his current top post, in which another commenter reports on Uganda's recent offer to send troops as peacekeepers in Somalia. That seems odd for a government facing an armed opposition near the end of an eroding cease-fire.

I responded as follows to Nell over at my place:

I'm afraid I've been derelict in writing about Uganda over the last few months. I've been following the situation, but it's been hard to tell from here how much of the ups and downs in the negotiations were for real and how much represented posturing by the parties. The signs now are very bad, though, given that the LRA is actually evacuating the assembly points. If the war resumes, it would be a catastrophe on so many levels, not only for the child soldiers and their victims but for the the two million Acholi villagers who were just starting to go home and normalize their lives after years of forced migration to government-run camps.

I'd agree with Hilzoy that this is a case where high-powered international mediation could have made a difference. The southern Sudanese government, which is trying to increase its profile in regional diplomacy, was able to provide a venue for the talks, but it couldn't offer the guarantees necessary to seal an agreement. As I argued in my comment of 23 February, part of the reason for Uganda's participation in the Somali peacekeeping mission could be to attract international attention to the northern rebellion and obtain American and/or European aid in bringing the LRA back to the table. On the other hand, if the LRA conflict begins again in earnest, it could jeopardize the UPDF's ability to lead the Somali mission. Museveni is walking a very narrow tightrope.

Anyway, the best place to look for Uganda coverage is the Ugandan online media. I'd recommend the Monitor, which is independently owned, but the government-run New Vision can be useful for getting a read on government policy. The UN-run IRIN Uganda is also a good source of humanitarian news. I'll try to put something more complete together this week, although probably not today.

I send informative posts to the e-mail communities (Christian students, leftist students, stay-at-home-fathers, B-Boys & DJ's, urban artists, OLD Marines) I am a part of.

So, they do not go to waste.

(Head Heeb is one of the best international bLogs.)

Hi all, I read on the Washington Post site that it was okay to share this with you here, so my apologies if it is not.

After reading about this tragedy there are many that would like to help in some way. There is an organization called Invisible Children and they are actively seeking to end this war, child soldiering and save the lives of the people of Northern Uganda. They also have a documentary that assists them in telling the story.

Please visit www.invisiblechildren.com to find out more and how you can help.

I've updated here, for those who may be interested.


Thank you for raising awareness of the plight of the children of Uganda! I am currently presenting a children's picture book titled "The Truth-Telling Tree" to publishers, which was funded by the International Book Project, Inc. (www.intlbookproject.org) that showcases artwork and expressions by Ugandan children. I would be happy to share this with you if you are interested.

Again, thank you for the work you do!

Karen Mireau

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