Tuesday, April 1, 2008

HPU students lobby for Uganda resolution

Hawaii Pacific University students of Invisible Children Hawaii presented testimony to the Judiciary Committee today in support of House Resolution and House Concurrent Resolution 39, which urges congress to lead the international community in efforts to protect the children of Uganda.

Excerpts from the resolution:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature also urges the Government of Uganda to abolish child soldiering in its armed forces;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Hawaii's Congressional Delegation is urged to support legislation allocating sufficient funds for continued humanitarian aid for the people of Uganda as well as legislation urging the LRA to engage in good faith negotiations in pursuing a political solution to this conflict; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Secretary of State, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and the heads of other similar government agencies and nongovernmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations within the international community are urged to continue augmenting efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda and to support a peaceful resolution to this crisis by publicly and forcefully reiterating the preceding demands; and
For more than 20 years, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has engaged in an armed conflict with the Government of Uganda, resulting in 10, 000 people murdered, at least twice that number of children abducted, and over 1, 600, 000 people displaced, according to the resolution. Read more on this issue in a past blog post here.

The atrocities and violence are still going on today. It has become a dismissed and forgotten humanitarian issue that the world has left for another day.

Invisible Children Hawaii want to see that day arrive sooner than later. They hope the resolution will spark more community support and awareness in Hawaii, the mainland and around the world on the civil war in Uganda and the children who are most affected by it.

Invisible Children Hawaii set three goals this year: Education, Fundraising and Lobbying. They have thus far presented screenings of the documentary "Invisible Children" to more than 500 Hawaii students and raised over $4,000 for Atanda Secondary School in Uganda.

HR/HCR 39 HD 1 passed out of Judiciary this afternoon bringing the group one step closer to making a difference and achieving their objectives this year.

"I'm so excited," said Sara Ortiz, an HPU student from Mexico majoring in International Studies. "We've worked so hard."

The resolution is only a stepping stone to drafting a bill for the 2009 Legislative Session that would make a bigger impact on international humanitarian issues and maybe even put more money into the effort, said Ortiz.

Today, Invisible Children Hawaii are content with knowing that they have the support of the State Legislature.

Photo: Sara Ortiz, 24; Aya Sato, 19; and Duda Breseeg, 23, urge the Judicial Committee to pass HR/HCR 39 in hearing today.

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