Ruth Messinger Visits South Sudan, Northern Uganda

NEW YORK, July 6, 2006 – Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, is visiting South Sudan and northern Uganda. In neglected and war-stricken areas, Messinger is bearing witness to the lives of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the ongoing struggle for human rights in the region. Messinger’s trip is focusing on community-based civil society projects and the continuing work of AJWS in conflict and post-conflict zones of Africa.

Messinger is currently in the field in South Sudan, visiting projects dedicated to rebuilding the lives of refugees and IDPs after decades of war. Messinger will meet with local officials in Aweil and will see HIV/AIDS and civil society projects in Rumbek. In Juba, she will visit several community wide projects that are working on rule of law and human rights education, and spend a night in a refugee camp.

In northern Uganda, Messinger will visit the Watwero Rights Focus Initiative, one of six AJWS projects in the area. Watwero is located in the district of Kitgum, a town that until recently headquartered the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which uses children as sex slaves and child soldiers. Watwero addresses the needs of children and youth who have been affected by the ongoing war and the presence of the LRA in the district.

The critical situations in South Sudan and northern Uganda demand more international attention. South Sudan is recovering from almost 50 years of war and famine and is now in the process of resettling its refugees and IDPs. In northern Uganda, a protracted insurgency has raged for 20 years, making it one of the world’s most violent conflicts.

Messinger’s fact-finding on this trip will enable AJWS to expand its work in these two devastated regions. “These are two of the most severe trouble spots in the world,” Messinger points out. “It is important to witness what is happening.”

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