Story of hope: Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Acholiland, a part of northern Uganda, has been ravaged by war since 1987, leaving thousands dead and millions displaced. In an effort to bring about a lasting peace and reconciliation, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) brings together Christian and Muslim leaders from the area to institute community-based peace building projects. Since its creation in 1998, the Initiative has consistently called for an end to the violence and for peace talks among the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Ugandan government, and other affected parties.
The work of the ARLPI has had a profound impact on the course of the war – although armed conflict continues in the region, more steps than ever are being taken to bring about peace. The group was instrumental in passing the Amnesty Act in the Ugandan legislature in 2000, giving amnesty to any rebel forces that surrendered, an important step in bringing about a peaceful end to the conflict.
Additionally, ARLPI has been very involved in bringing leaders of the LRA to the table for peace talks. In 2003, leaders from the ARLPI and from the LRA met to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict, paving the way for the Juba peace talks beginning in 2006 (the most important talks to date).
The ARLPI is also one of the groups, along with other activists in the region, which brought the plight of the child soldiers, known as the Invisible Children, to international attention. Through peaceful demonstrations, including sleeping in the streets in solidarity with the afflicted children, they exhibited to world that a very vulnerable group was being left behind in efforts to help those affected by the on-going war.