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.
Ten thousand Invisible Children supporters descended in red t-shirts on the D.C. Convention Center earlier this month for the group’s largest event to date: MOVE:DC. While I walked 15 minutes from my apartment, there were attendees who had flown from Brazil and driven from California, all united in their commitment to ending the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and apprehending now-infamous rebel leader Joseph Kony. Read More »
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, recently released their third quarter report on LRA activity in central Africa. These updated stats serve to illustrate the ongoing grave impact of the LRA in central Africa, in spite of their relatively small numbers and the fact that soldiers from several countries—including American military advisors—are pursuing them. Read More »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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:
Enough Project report “Ending the LRA” by LRA Policy Analyst Ashley Benner
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.