Monday, July 12, 2010

Tragedy in Kampala

As many of you have probably heard, there were two terrorist bombings last night in Kampala, the capitol city of Uganda, which killed upwards of 64 people who were gathered to watch the World Cup finals. The attack was carried out by Al-Shabaab, a Somalian terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda. Somalia is a country with no functioning government, and as such, the African Union has sent peacekeeping forces there, a number of which are from the Ugandan Army. Al-Shabaab, which "controls" much of Somalia, does not appreciate Uganda's presence, and supposedly this is why the attack was conducted. The African Union summit will also be taking place in Kampala next week, so this could be why Al-Shabaab chose to carry out these attacks now - to make a statement and try to shine negative light on Uganda during this important time.

While at first I was concerned about the safety of traveling to Uganda at this time, and whether we would even be departing for training, I have since been reassured my numerous sources. This is an isolated incident, and Kampala is considered to be one of the safest capitol cities in Africa. All 120 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in Uganda are fine and have been told not to leave their sites (most of which are pretty far from Kampala) until further notice. One of my fellow trainees called the Peace Corps headquarters and was told that this will not affect our departure, and we will leave as planned. I trust Peace Corps' decision, especially with the knowledge that they are usually quick to pull volunteers out of volatile situations, such as political violence in Kenya and Madagascar in recent years. During my service, I will never be stationed in Kampala - the closest is during the first few months for training when we will be living about 20 km outside of Kampala.

So, we'll keep an eye on the situation, but it seems that this will not affect the beginning of my Peace Corps service. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I hope that during the next 2 years, I can somehow bring a degree of hope and positive changes to help counteract such terrible events that happen not only in Uganda but around the world. The Peace Corps is aptly named, as I truly believe that intercultural, global understanding can help to make this world a more peaceful place.

No comments: