Electricity shortage cause for baby boom

•March 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Uganda BabyRecent power shortages in Uganda are leading couples to bed earlier and therefore having more sex.  Planning minister Ephraim Kamuntu said, “While the rest of the world is working in shifts, we in Uganda are going to bed early.”  According to Kamuntu, more than 90% of the Ugandan population is without a reliable source of electricity.  Check out more statistics about Uganda’s electricity from Electricity Regulatory Authority website.  

Uganda’s annual population growth is among the highest in the world.  According to the country’s Population Secretary, the growth rate is at 3.4%.  The average couple spends 12 hours in darkness, with out television or other means to stay awake and out of bed.

High population growth is why Kamuntu believes the standard of living has remained so low over the years.  With extreme poverty and a rising infant mortality rate, it is important to try to solve this electrical problem.  Besides keeping lovers out of bed, Kamuntu thinks more electricity will provide much needed efficiency in the country’s agricultural business.

However, some couples don’t feel that the power shortage has anything to do with the baby boom.  They blame it on poverty, boredom, and lack of contraceptives.  Read more from the BBC News coverage of the power shortage.  Also, read New Vision’s, Uganda’s leading news webiste, article about the relationship between the population growth and the lack of electricity.

One of LRA’s commanders captured

•March 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last Tuesday, the Ugandan army captured Thomas Kwoyelo, one of the most wanted LRA’s commanders.  Kwoyelo is thought to be fourth-in-command.  They found him in a national park in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

According to Major Felix Kulayigye, Kwoyelo was injured when they captured him Garamba National Park.  They also captured a few of the fighters in their attempts to run away.  Unfortunately, this capture is not getting much attention because people want to see Kony captured.  A BBC correspondent, Josh Mmali, noted that the people want to see the leader of LRA in custody.  

However, Kony remains impossible to find.  He is still refusing to sign peace agreements.  Kony and his two deputies have been indicted on war crime charges by the International Criminal Court.  Apparently the LRA is refusing to sign peace agreements until the war crime charges are lifted. 

To watch a video of the captured commander, check out this article from BBC News.

Last Wednesday, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, and Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, met to discuss the Ugandan Army’s involvement in the DR of Congo.  Both the leaders agreed to allow the troops continue to go after the LRA in the northern part of the Congo.

Children in the DR of Congo

Children in the DR of Congo

The troops were supposed to leave the Congo at the end of February and Kabila, the Congolese presidnet, was under pressure from some of his supporters to end the Ugandan involvement.  However, the LRA continues to attack random villages in the Congo and South Sudan in response to the operation “Lightning Thunder” that Uganda, the DR of Congo, and Sudan launched in mid-December.  

Support from Uganda is still very much needed in that area.  BBC covered the meeting between the two African presidents and you can read more about the agreement surrounding the Ugandan army here.

The LRA continues to enlist child soldiers throughout the DR of Congo and Sudan.  Sudan is actually in a rather vulnerable position right now due to recent war crime charges on their president.  Catch up on the current situation with the president of Sudan with this article from BBC.  

Global financial stress ups child mortality rates

•March 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

With the recent financial crisis, extreme poverty is only getting worse.  It is expected that the 390 million people living in poverty in Africa will lose around $18 billion, or $46 per person because of the global deficit, according to a recent report from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  Read more from that report from the UNESCO.

The children in these poor parts of Africa are the suffering the most.  An increase of 200,000 to 400,000 infant mortality rate is expected and child malnutrition is on the rise.  These children are likely to suffer from “long-term irreversible cognitive damage,” said Patrick Montjourides of UNESCO.  

B and W ChildrenThe European Union’s aid commitment to stop poverty is now expected to be $4.6 billion less than what they had planned for 2010.  UNESCO Director-General Kiochiro Matsuura said, “We cannot allow rich countries to use this crisis as an excuse to turn their back on the world’s poor.”  He calls richer countries to try to fix the financial system and continue efforts to “tackle the structural problems of extreme poverty and inequality.”  

Kevin Watkins, of UNESCO, calls aid donors to do more to protect the poor considering the crisis was created by rich countries’ failures to regulate their finances.  To read more about how the global financial crisis is affecting low income countries, check out the U.N. News Centre.

In other recent U.N. news, Ban Kl-moon, the Secretary-General of the U.N. visited the DR Congo last week.  He met with Congo’s President Joseph Kabila to discuss the U.N.’s involvement with peacekeeping in the region. For a brief about the visit check out Invisible Children’s News.

The numbers

•March 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Children

One of the reasons why the children of Africa are called “Invisible Children” is pretty obvious, they are just that, invisible.  They are unaccounted for.  No one is tracking exactly who and how many are missing.  This all rang too true when I sat down to figure out the statistics about Africa’s longest running war.  

It was very difficult for me to find the numbers that surround the atrocities that have been occurring over the past 20 years in Africa. I find this odd considering how important the media has made statistics.  How often do you see a death toll slapped on the front of a newspaper in big bold print?  Perhaps this is because numbers stick out.  I did some digging to find some of the numbers from this war.

1,800,00

The number of people that have been displaced from their homes at some point during this on-going war with the LRA.

1,000,000

The number of people still displaced in Uganda.  Some of them haven’t been home in more than a decade.  

20,000 

The number of children that have been abducted and forced to fight for the LRA, estimated by the UN.

104,000

The number of Congolese that have fleed their homes since Christmas (2008) to escape the LRA

800

The number of Congolese people murdered by the LRA in just a few days in the last few months.

500

The number of Conoglese men, women, and children abducted by the LRA in the last few months.

74

The number of villages throughout the DR of Congo and Sudan that have been recently attacked by the LRA.

8

The number of times the LRA attacked a single village, Duru.  

The numbers speak for themselves.  To get more information about what’s going on in the DR of Congo, click here. 

Joseph Kony: Leader of a terrorist group

•February 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Attacks by the LRA spread across the Congo and into Sudan

What is happening in Africa right now is not a simple rebellion against the government, but rather a planned, strategic terrorist movement.  According to a report done by BBC, there could only be around 1,000 trained LRA soldiers, but they are splitting up into groups as small as five and six to brutally murder and destroy villages.  The rest of their army is made up of abducted children forced to fight for them.  

Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA

Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA

How have the governments of Africa not stopped such a small group of rebels?  Well, that’s part of the LRA’s strategy.  When the LRA continues to attack small villages, the troops of the government’s army are tied up protecting villages versus trying to stop the LRA.  For more information about their tactics check out this article from BBC news.  

The man behind the whole operation is Joseph Kony of Uganda.  Very few people outside the LRA know the rebel leader.  Col Negre of Southern Sudan has been negotiating with Kony for the past two years and he said, “Kony is a cool person and looks like a normal person.  When you meet him there is nothing about him that makes you think he’s a murderer.”  However, Negre mentioned that Kony is very suspicious of everyone he encounters.  Negre also claims that when the negotiations are happening, Kony gets recognition.  “That is what he wants,” said Negre.

Here is a video from a few years back of an interview with Kony.  It shows how difficult it is to meet with this man.

Just this week, the Anglican Archbishop of Sudan, has asked the US and the UK for more help to catch this notorious rebel leader. The archbishop told BBC that he believes that stopping Kony is out of reach for the armies of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Uganda. Read more from the archbishop here. 

I have heard over and over again that what’s happening is a serious problem for humanity.  Thousands of innocent civilians have been quite literally slaughtered and hundreds of thousands more forced to leave their homes.  This is all occuring because of one man, Joseph Kony.  He needs to be stopped.  

PLEASE SIGN UP FOR INVISIBLE CHILDREN’S NEXT MOVEMENT AGAINST KONY! For more details check out this website and video: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/april2009/index.html

10 ways to help the children of Uganda

•February 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

Now that this war has finally been noticed on a global scale, there are many ways to help in the fight to save the youth of Uganda.  It is time to stop the injustice and time to step up and help out!  I compiled a list of 10 great ways to get involved:

  1.  Sign up to be a part of Invisible Children’s new movement called “The Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers” that they just released information about.  Check out the details and a great movie about the event here117142458_ce56192ed13
  2. Sponsor a child through either The Redeemed Africa or Children of Uganda programs.  Both of these are dedicated to educating the children of Uganda in hopes of creating a peaceful environment.
  3. Buy the Invisible Children documentary and have a screening with your friends and family.  This movie will change your life and the money is donated to their on-going project to stop the war.  
  4.  This is extreme, but it is one route you could take, but plan a trip to visit Uganda and share your talents.  Contact The Redeemed Africa project for more information at redeemedafrica@gmail.com 
  5. Check out Invisible Children’s sweet list of 10 ways to get involved.  They came up with some pretty cool ideas to help out!   
  6. Get a copy of the independently made film Abanunule: The Redeemed.  This film was made by a guy from my hometown in Minnesota.  It is a very powerful film and should be shared with your friends!
  7. Start up a Schools for Schools club at your school or university. 
  8. Donate money to the Bracelet Campaign. With each donation you’ll receive a Ugandan-made bracelet and a short film DVD about a child in Uganda. 116698929_527143944f1 
  9. Write a letter to your senator asking for government support to stop the war in Africa.  Here is the link to the U.S. Senate’s website.
  10. Spread the word!  Talk to your friends about the situation.  The more people that get involved, the more the world will see the need to end the suffering.  Perhaps you could start a blog 😉 

Fighting the rebels

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Associated Press just released a story about the failure of the U.N. to protect the Congolese people from the vicious LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army).  This is the same LRA that tore through Northern Uganda, ruining the lives of an entire generation of children.  Despite the U.N.’s efforts of a 17,000 troop mission, there just simply aren’t enough people on the ground to protect the 58 million civilians of the Congo.  

According the to Associated Press, nearly 1,500 civilians have been brutally murdered by members of the LRA since last September.  How and when will this end?  When the Associated Press asked John Holmes, the U.N. diplomat for humanitarian aid, if the U.N. could do better he stated, “Yes. The fact that I’m here is an admission that we need to do a lot more- more resources, more capacity on the ground, better security.”  To read more about the recent U.N. involvement (or lack there of) in Congo, check out this article from MSNBC.com.

A young mother and her child now live in Ezo Camp for protection from the LRA

A young mother and her child now live in Ezo Camp for protection from the LRA (photo from flickr.com)

There seems to be progress in the U.N.’s awareness of what is happening because of these rebels, but it is now a matter of how to actually bring about peace.  Just recently the U.N. officially denounced the LRA and spoke out against the brutal attacks on the Congolese.  For many Congolese and Ugandan civilians the U.N.’s aid is a little too late.  Along with millions of Ugandan families, the Congolese are now being forced into displacement camps for protection.  Here is a link to a video done by MSNBC that shares information about the LRA and the government efforts to stop them.

Within the first MSNBC link to the article, there is a picture slideshow on the right side titled “Displaced by war,” which I found to be very saddening and it definitely opened my eyes to the terror these people have seen.  The slide shares stories like 3-year old Josephine, who is recovering after being paralyzed from neck down by the rebels after they killed her parents.  Something needs to be done, which is why in my next blog I will be discussing how you can help!