May 13, 2010

McDonnell, Akallo Acknowledged on House Floor

Faith McDonnell and Grace Akallo were acknowledged in a speech given by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) before the passage of the bill on LRA disarmament and the Northern Uganda Recovery Act. (See entire day’s transcript).


. . . [Mr. Smith talking:]

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the condemnation of the Lord’s Resistance Army expressed in S. 1067 and the bill’s goal of supporting civilian protection and development in northern Uganda. Four years ago, I chaired a hearing of the Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee on: The Endangered Children of Northern Uganda. A courageous young woman named Grace Akallo testified about her abduction at the age of 15, together with 138 classmates at a boarding school, by the LRA. They and approximately 30,000 other children have endured horrifying atrocities as

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child soldiers and sex slaves. Ms. Akallo eventually escaped, and her remarkable story was recounted in a book entitled, “Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children,” that she coauthored with human rights activist Faith McDonnell. I highly recommend the book to my colleagues and anyone who wants to learn more about these incredible human rights violations and how we can all work together to address and to stop them.

  Ms. Akallo stated back in 2006 that, unfortunately, her story was not uncommon. And I sadly add that, unfortunately, it is still not uncommon. Joseph Kony continues to lead the LRA in the commission of outrageous abuses and atrocities, including the abduction, rape, and killing of innocent civilians, not only in northern Uganda, but also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Southern Sudan. Although Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for these and other crimes against humanity, he and his cohorts have yet to be brought to justice.

Mr. Speaker, we must do everything possible to stop the widespread suffering that he is inflicting and to help those who have survived these atrocities to recover. In her testimony, Ms. Akallo specifically asked for more resources to help people suffering because of this conflict, emphasizing that “it will be important for the Government of Uganda and the international community to provide returnees with adequate resettlement assistance and support in restoring and developing community infrastructure so that people can begin to rebuild their lives.” She went on to say, “I ask for your help and the help of others to take action to end this war so that my sisters and brothers and all children of northern Uganda can sleep in peace.” Mr. Speaker, I ask that all of my colleagues respond to Ms. Akallo’s heartfelt request, and I do hope that this bill will pass.

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