Nearly six months on from the launch of a U.N. strategy aimed at ending 26 years of violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, a joint report by a coalition of non-governmental organizations reveals today that the strategy has failed to make meaningful progress toward its core objectives. The report is released ahead of U.N. Security Council consultations on the LRA set for December 18th.
Tepid political commitment from regional governments, lack of urgency from the U.N., and an under-resourced African Union mission are the key causes of the failure.
“For too long, the people of the central Africa have suffered from unspeakable atrocities committed by the LRA. Their children have been abducted and murdered. Their families have been forced from their homes and their livelihoods destroyed. The UN has shown great leadership, and invested a great deal, in developing a strategy to support these populations and respond to the horrors of the LRA. It must not fall short now. There is too much at stake and too much to lose,” Ben Keesey, Chief Executive Officer of Invisible Children, said.
The report comes as violence is again escalating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and amid reports that the Sudanese government is harboring the LRA. Both of these developments could give the LRA the opportunity to reassert itself in the region. The evidence of ineffective U.N./African Union collaboration is also of concern in the light of a likely military intervention in Mali.
“This report is a wakeup call for the Security Council. Unless they reenergize the strategy and ensure that regional governments are effectively engaged then the whole process could fall apart. The Secretary General must publicly affirm his determination to see the UN Regional Strategy on the LRA implemented in full,” said Ernest Sugule, National Coordinator of Solidarité et Assistance intégrale aux Personnes Démunies (SAIPED), in the DRC.
The international community also has a critical role to play to support the UN and AU’s efforts.
“The UN, in partnership with the African Union and international donors, should vigorously lead the effort to end the LRA conflict. To deliver on the UN strategy will require more troops, access for the troops to LRA safe havens, enhanced intelligence, and improved efforts to promote defections. At this critical moment, the UN must rise to the challenge,” John Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Enough Project, said.
A joint report by the Enough Project and a coalition of non-governmental organizations seeks to assess progress made by UN actors against the benchmarks outlined in the UN Regional Strategy on the Lord's Resistance Army.
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SOUTH SUDAN and CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – Current military operations tasked with hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in the vast jungles of Central Africa face a logistical nightmare and intelligence challenges that inhibit their ability to find the senior leaders and end the LRA, according to a new Enough Project field report and accompanying video.
In August 2012, Enough Project LRA Field Researcher Kasper Agger embedded with the Ugandan military, or UPDF—the main force pursuing the LRA with approximately 1,500 soldiers—traveling from South Sudan to Central African Republic, or CAR. Enough’s new field report and video are based on information gathered during his embedding, as well as from interviews he conducted with commanders, soldiers and military and civilian partners in both countries.
Agger, author of the report, said:
"The Ugandan army in Central Africa continues to face multiple logistical and intelligence challenges that handicap its ability to locate and fight the LRA successfully. Their offensive trekking teams can roam around the jungle for several weeks without any certain trace of the rebels. The fact remains that improved infrastructure and additional soldiers are much needed to cover the vast and remote areas where the LRA continues to operate and prey on civilians."
The deployment of 100 U.S. military advisors has helped address some of the Ugandan troops’ issues, but the report describes continuing needs for better access to LRA-affected areas, enhanced human and aerial intelligence, increased air support, and improved road infrastructure. The report argues that U.S. advisors should play a more operational role alongside regional forces in the field, in an effort to speed up the mission to capture Joseph Kony and top LRA commanders.
The report recognizes that neither the Ugandan troops nor U.S. advisors will be deployed indefinitely, so a new approach to the hunt for the LRA’s senior commanders is needed that would ensure adequately trained and equipped troops can be deployed rapidly, with the appropriate intelligence and logistical capabilities possible.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.