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Archive for Martin Mogwanja

Clay Aiken – A Call For Peace

In May of 2005, Clay Aiken visited Uganda in his role of UNICEF Ambassador.  The following article was written about the trip soon after Clay returned home:

 The Uganda Observer – U.S. Star Ends Northern Tour

The U.S. Fund for United Nations Children’s Fund (unicef) national celebrity ambassador, Clay Aiken, has completed a weeklong visit to northern and eastern Uganda with a call for peace.

Aiken, 25, a teacher and popular singer in the United States, was appointed U.S. Fund for unicef Ambassador in November last year.
He has so far visited tsunami-affected areas in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Aiken toured unicef-supported projects in the internally displaced people’s camps, night commuter shelters and a reception centre for formerly abducted children.

Comparing the situation in northern Uganda to the tsunami disaster that hit Asia at the end of last year, Aiken said the Ugandan situation is worse because of the continuous war. In the case of tsunami, he said, reconstruction is already underway.

“The pressing need for now is peace. We will call upon the U.S. government to help unicef and the Uganda government to stop the war,” Aiken said during a press conference in Kampala last week.

Unicef Country Representative, Martin Mogwanja, said that peace would allow the people to become active participants in their development, adding that their basic needs include water, sanitation, health, and protection from exploitation through rape and abduction.

“Political efforts need more attention from the international community,” he added.
Justifying the choice of Aiken as unicef ambassador, Mogwanja explained that the UN body uses young people to bring a fresh picture to the situation in northern Uganda.

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In an effort to bring attention to the plight of children in northern Uganda, UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken traveled to the conflict affected region to witness the phenomenon of “night commuters,” children who trek from the countryside into slightly more secure towns and UNICEF supported shelters every night to avoid being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Clay was in Uganda from May 24-27, 2005.

In 2005, the conflict in northern Uganda had displaced approximately 1.4 million people — 80 per cent of them children and women — as the rebels (LRA) seeked to overthrow the Ugandan government. Each evening, the threat of LRA attacks and abductions drove over 40,000 child “night commuters” to leave their homes. An estimated 12,000 children have been abducted by the LRA in the conflict-affected districts since June 2002, to be forcibly recruited as child combatants and sex slaves.

Clay interacted with children who were abducted by LTA rebels and then visited the Pabbo IDP camp in Gulu on May 25.

Clay said:

“Northern Uganda is one of the most dangerous places in the world for children. Children are being forced to commit appalling acts of violence. Children are being killed and raped. It was all too clear that those living in the conflict-affected districts of Uganda deserve much more. The global community must act now with utmost urgency to put an end to these atrocities. No progress will be made until there is peace throughout the country.”

Comparing the situation in northern Uganda to the tsunami disaster that hit Asia at the end of last year, Aiken said the Ugandan situation is worse because of the continuous war. In the case of tsunami, he said, reconstruction is already underway.

On his role as UNICEF ambassador, Clay said,

“Everyone deserves the best start in life, which is what UNICEF is working to provide the world’s most vulnerable children with. Education is essential to a child’s development. I hope that as an ambassador, I can encourage people to join UNICEF’s mission to make education a reality for children throughout the world.”

Unfortunately, things have not changed dramatically during the last 9 years. Fortunately, the LRA is moving out of Uganda. However, it is moving to other neighboring countries.  The Lord’s Resistance Army has been found to physically disfigure victims, rape women, massacre villages, and abduct and force children to kill their own family members.

The following is a video of Clay’s trip to Uganda.

 

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