Child Soldiers

Foreign Policy Op-ed: The Africa Surprise

Barack Obama's victory over Mitt Romney could have significant implications for America's approach to countries ranging from China to Russia. But U.S. policy toward Africa was unlikely to shift dramatically no matter who was elected president this week -- a remarkable fact considering that nearly every foreign policy issue is cannon fodder for partisan battles these days.  Read More »

5 Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A weekly round-up of must-read stories, posted every Friday.  Read More »

Chasing the LRA: Enough Project Video and Report from the Frontlines of the Hunt for Joseph Kony

Date: 
Nov 9, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org+1-202-459-1219

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.

Read the full report: “Field Dispatch: Chasing the Lord’s Resistance Army – Challenges Faced by Ugandan Soldiers Pursuing the LRA

View the accompanying video: “Challenges in Hunt for the LRA

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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.

Cameras on the Battlefield: The Satellite Sentinel Project Reports

The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, released a multimedia package today presenting evidence that Sudan’s notoriously brutal Central Reserve Police, also known as “Abu Tira,” participated in, and filmed, the systematic burning and looting of the Nuba Mountains village of Gardud al Badry in the war-torn region of South Kordofan, Sudan.  Read More »

Uganda Celebrates 50 Years of Independence

Today marks Uganda’s 50th Independence Day. The anniversary has been long-awaited and with some excitement. The main opposition group, For God and My Country, headed by longtime opposition leader Kizza Besigye, has staged rallies and protests in Kampala in the week leading to today’s celebrations.  Read More »

Enough Media Advisory: Action Needed Now to Apprehend Joseph Kony and End the LRA

Date: 
Oct 7, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219

Please Note: Enough Project LRA Policy Analyst Ashley Benner and Enough Project LRA Field Researcher Kasper Agger are available to interview about the LRA issue.

WASHINGTON – Today, Invisible Children launched the video “MOVE” as part of its Kony 2012 campaign that introduced millions of people to the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, crisis. Resolving this long-standing conflict requires further immediate and robust action by the United States government. The Obama administration must commit more diplomatic, military, intelligence, and logistical support to ensure the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders as part of a comprehensive strategy to end the LRA threat.

Enough Project LRA Policy Analyst Ashley Benner and LRA Field Researcher Kasper Agger recently returned from a trip to East and Central Africa. During this trip, Enough documented numerous challenges that hamstring current U.S., regional, and international efforts to bring an end to the LRA.

“The Obama administration has invested resources to help end the LRA conflict, including the deployment of military advisors to Central and East Africa,” said Ashley Benner, LRA Policy Analyst at the Enough Project. “But if the current trajectory continues, these efforts are not likely to succeed. To ensure that the mission to end the LRA is successful, the United States should eliminate LRA ’safe havens,’ keep the African armies vigorously involved in combating the LRA, provide additional helicopters and intelligence-gathering capabilities, and urge Uganda to institute a clear transitional justice policy that encourages the LRA to finally stop fighting.”

“We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the deployment of U.S. special forces to Central and East Africa to advise and assist in the fight against the LRA,” said Kasper Agger, LRA Field Researcher at the Enough Project. “The inconvenient truth is that the end of the LRA remains distant. Some progress has been made to encourage defections through 'come home' messages and safe places that LRA combatants can escape to; but the African forces are too few to cover the dense jungles and LRA safe havens are developing in Darfur, Congo, and parts of the Central African Republic where the group can loot, abduct and attack civilians. U.S. special forces should stay on the ground to keep the African forces committed and diplomatic efforts should focus on brokering access for the Ugandan army into the safe havens.”

“The existing international effort is not sufficiently designed at present to succeed in taking Kony off the battlefield and cratering the LRA leadership,” said Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. “The U.S. and Uganda need to collaborate more closely in constructing commando operations aimed at bringing Kony and other senior LRA leaders to justice wherever they are.  Current battlefield deployments are far from where Kony is hiding, and every day that goes by allows Kony and his commanders to recruit and rearm while international will and resources remain stagnant. That is a recipe for well-intentioned failure.”

For more information about recommendations for the U.S. and international community to ensure that efforts to end the LRA conflict are successful, read:

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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.

       

 

Robert, Former LRA Child Soldier: “We Need to Rebuild Together.”

Three weeks. Twenty-one days. Five hundred and four hours. That is how long Robert spent walking back home as a child after escaping from captivity in the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in northern Uganda. In his seemingly endless two years with the rebels, he was forced to kill, abduct young children, and walk over 300 miles, usually in dense jungle without shoes. And yet just three short years later, he is leading a successful community project to help his fellow former child soldiers to generate income and reintegrate back into society.  Read More »

Uganda Should Grant Rebels Amnesty in Exchange for Truth: Enough Report

Date: 
Aug 30, 2012

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 30, at 12:01 am EST

Contact: Tracy Fehr, +1-937-902-9587tfehr@enoughproject.org  

GULU, Northern Uganda -- The government of Uganda’s decision to remove a key provision in the country’s Amnesty Act threatens to impede efforts to end the notorious rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. To address this concern and ensure peace in the region, the government of Uganda must clarify that former rebels will not be prosecuted, and grant amnesty to future defectors in exchange for participation in truth-seeking and reconciliation processes, according to a new Enough Project report.

The report—based on interviews with more than 60 people across northern Uganda as well as consultations with civil society groups in Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan—proposes a three-part plan to achieve greater defections from the LRA while ensuring that justice and truth-seeking needs are met. The report is also accompanied by a new Enough Project video.

“While there is overwhelming support for amnesty among local communities in Northern Uganda, there is also a recognized need for reconciliation and transitional justice,” said Kasper Agger, the report’s author and Enough Project LRA field researcher. “The reality is that the vast majority of LRA fighters were forcefully abducted, so often there is no clear distinction between victim and perpetrator. To ensure long-term peace and stability, Kampala must formalize truth-seeking and traditional reconciliation practices for former combatants to receive amnesty in exchange for their participation.”

Since its enactment in 2000, the Ugandan Amnesty Act has served as a critical tool in encouraging defections from rebel groups. As of May 2012, a total of 26,288 rebels had received amnesty under the act—12,971 of which were former LRA combatants. With the recent lapse of the amnesty provision, former rebels now fear that they will face prosecution, and many believe that the provision’s removal will discourage defections and escapes from the LRA.

“The government of Uganda should listen to the concerns of its citizens and ensure that no former LRA combatants, aside from those wanted by the ICC, are prosecuted,” said Enough Executive Director John Bradshaw. “And as the government of Uganda develops its transitional justice policy, it is critical that the government adheres to a holistic approach that includes mechanisms to deal with crimes committed by all parties.”

The report found that local communities prioritize reparation and reconciliation over retributive justice, but there is a general sense that those most responsible for crimes must be held accountable, including members of the Ugandan army and government.

Read the full report: “The End of Amnesty in Uganda: Implications for LRA Defections.”

View the accompanying video that includes interviews of former LRA combatants in Northern Uganda.

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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.

New Enough Issue Brief Highlights the Problem of Access in the Hunt for the LRA

Today, the Enough Project released its latest issue brief and map illustrating access that troops pursuing the Lord’s Resistance Army have in the region. The publication details the issue of LRA safe havens in Congo, the Central African Republic, and Sudan and offers solutions for battling this continuing problem.  Read More »

Ending the LRA

Current efforts to end the Lord’s Resistance Army, including U.S. military advisors currently deployed in East and Central Africa, are unlikely to succeed if they are not accompanied by the proper diplomatic, military, logistical, and intelligence support. This series of LRA Issue Briefs describes the main obstacles to success and explains what steps the U.S. and its partners should take in order to end the LRA as soon as possible.

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