New York, April 18, 2006
Happy Spring to you.~We are writing to invite you to join us in a renewed "Pause for Peace" initiative. Two years ago, we took a minute each day at noon to recommit ourselves to peacemaking and hope. This time, we invite you to focus on the merciless suffering of the civilian population, particularly the children, in Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR of Congo).
The conflict in Northern Uganda has continued for nearly 20 years. Over 1.7 million people are forced to live in camps as internally displaced persons. More than 25,000 children have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and forced into fighting and sexual slavery, while abductions continue to occur. Up to 40,000 children commute each night from their homes to find a safe sleeping place in centers of town to avoid abduction. When Archbishop Odama of Gulu came to the United Nations in January, he asked that we unite with him in prayer for the peoples of Northern Uganda, especially the innocent children.
Another forgotten emergency is the humanitarian situation in the DR of Congo which remains desperate. The six-year civil war has already cost an estimated 4 million lives. Every day 1,200 people die due to war related causes such as preventable diseases, malnutrition and gender-based violence. More than 3.4 million have been displaced from their homes and 17 million don't have a steady supply of food. Over 33,000 child soldiers are currently active in the country while less than 30% of the nation's children are enrolled in school. National elections have been postponed again and are now scheduled to take place on the 18th of June 2006.
Please join us each day at 12 noon to pray for an end to the violence in Northern Uganda and the DR of Congo so that all, especially the children, can go home, free from want, free from fear, and free to live in dignity:
In solidarity with the people in Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we raise the voices of the children: "let us live in peace and dignity."
With your participation, this simple, easy-to-do moment of reflection has the potential of becoming an almost constant stream of pleas heard around the world, in different countries, cultures and languages, in different time zones, every single day anew.
We urge you to please disseminate this invitation as widely as possible through your own networks, so it reaches our co-workers and colleagues, our schools (students, faculties, parents and alumni), our families, friends, and neighbors, and beyond.~Just imagine what energy this daily plea could unleash if we unite our hearts and prayers for peace in Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thank you for participating in this peace initiative.
Caritas Internationalis Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd Congregation of the Mission, UN-NGO Office Congregations of St. Joseph Dominican Leadership Conference Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, UN-NGO Office International Presentation Association Sisters of the Presentation Marianists, UN-NGO Office Mercy International Association Passionists International Religious Orders Partnership/Partnership for Global Justice Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur-NGO Office Society of the Sacred Heart, UN-NGO Office Temple of Understanding UNANIMA International
Joan F. Burke, SND-N Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the UN 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1207 New York City NY 10017 SNDatUN@SNDdeN.org Phone: 1 (201) 213-2390; Fax 1 (212) 370-0075