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Marchers Seek to Draw Attention to Uganda


In Washington, activists marched through the city to draw attention to the conflict in northern Uganda, amid efforts to revive peace talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels (LRA). Organizers say similar marches were scheduled in cities around the world.

Marchers walked through Washington in hopes of increasing awareness of the conflict in northern Uganda, where a 20-year insurgency has claimed tens-of-thousands of lives and displaced nearly 2 million. More than 30,000 children have been abducted and forced to serve as child soldiers or sex slaves.

Michael Poffenberger, an organizer of the walk, says such events are important to raise awareness, especially now, as talks are under way to end 20 years of fighting.

"But peace talks are starting to falter a bit," he said. "There has been some renewed violence in the region, and they are really in need of some strong international support."

The marches were held as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni arrived in Sudan on a mission aimed at reviving peace talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels.

The Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army signed a truce in August, but have since accused each other of violations.

The Lord's Resistance Army demands the International Criminal Court drop war crimes charges against five top rebel leaders as a condition for signing a peace deal.

The walk in Washington drew a wide variety of people.

Silvia Njuguna, a Kenyan native, says she hopes the event will raise awareness. "I am hoping, coming out here, wearing out bright orange t-shirts, raising awareness, people can see us, and, maybe, they will be more informed about what is going on in northern Uganda," she said.

Poffenberger, the organizer, says the marches in Washington and more than 75 other cities around the world aim to raise more than $500,000 to help the children of Uganda.

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