It all began with a little boy at Barr IDP camp. Three months ago, I made my first trip north over the Victoria Nile and into northern Uganda.
What I witnessed over the coming two months was a horrifying picture of unnecessary mass suffering that deeply moved me - a 19-year old war that has left tens of thousands of people maimed or killed, more than 20,000 children abducted and 1.6 million people displaced into camps of the most squalor conditions.
When the little boy in Barr IDP camp took my hand and refused to let go, I promised that I would refuse to forget all that I saw, heard and felt in the north.For far too long, the international community, especially my own government in the United States, has done the opposite: forgetting, ignoring and neglecting the gross human atrocities in northern Uganda.
Recent reports by the United Nations, Reuters AlertNet and Medicins Sans Frontiers place this conflict on top of their lists of the world's most forgotten crises. Over the years, the international community has failed to provide the necessary relief assistance and use its diplomatic power to push the Ugandan government to commit to ending the war.
This inaction has facilitated the maintenance of the status quo and has served to perpetuate violence.Silence in the face of such human agony is complicity. The time has come for the international community to use its influence to advocate, support and facilitate peace negotiations to end the war.
The US government, whose influence is perhaps greatest, has a special role to play in using its clout in both Kampala and Khartoum to support and facilitate such negotiations. Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, recently told the BBC that this is a historic chance to end the war. It is critical that this opportunity is not lost.
Recognising the opportunity and urgency for action to end the war, the Washington-based Africa Faith and Justice Network is launching the Uganda Conflict Action Network (Uganda-CAN) to press for the US government to advocate and support the peace process.
Uganda-CAN will work to build a grassroots campaign of ordinary, outraged citizens around the world to combat this unnecessary suffering and help bring peace and reconciliation to the Great Lakes Region.
Working closely with individuals and organizations on the ground in northern Uganda, Uganda-CAN will highlight the realities that are often suppressed, while pushing for action to contribute to ending this 19-year old war.
Together, we will work that the international community can no longer ignore such gross human tragedy. Visit the Uganda-CAN website at www.ugandacan.org to learn more and become a member of Uganda-CAN.
There could be no more pressing or opportune moment to demand global governance that hears and answers to the suffering of the most poor and vulnerable of our world.