Lord’s Resistance Army’s Sends Chilling Threatto Congolese Civilians: ‘We Will Celebrate Christmas With You’
WASHINGTON, D.C– Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement today regarding incursions by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Enough calls on the United Nations Security Council and member states, including the United States as the greatest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping, to put immediate pressure on the Congolese government and the U.N. peacekeepers to improve civilian protection in the north-eastern reaches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Recent interviews conducted by Enough Project researchers traveling in Haut Uele and Bas Uele in Province Orientale, in northern Congo, suggest that the Lord's Resistance Army--a transnational terrorist group with a 20-year record of atrocities--is threatening to repeat the massacres it committed during Christmas 2008, in which over 800 Congolese civilians were brutally murdered.Meanwhile, Congolese army units deployed to protect local populations from the LRA continue to commit grave abuses against Congolese civilians.
The LRA have killed nearly 1,500 Congolese civilians and abducted 3,000 more (including at least 700 children) since the Ugandan army launched an offensive against the LRA in December 2008. The presence of 6,000 Congolese soldiers in Province Orientale--many of them integrated brigades of former rebels and local militia from the troubled Kivu provinces in eastern Congo--has actually made matters worse. The U.N. Mission in the Congo, or MONUC, has deployed to the affected region, but peacekeepers conduct only limited patrols in some LRA-affected area that provide little deterrent against LRA attacks and Congolese army abuses. A battalion of Tunisian reinforcements that was supposed to deploy in June 2009 has yet to arrive.
"Civilians in Haut Uele and Bas Uele not only face the threat of LRA attack, but are also subject to the predations of the Congolese soldiers sent to protect them," said Enough policy advisor Colin Thomas-Jensen. "The international community must press the Congolese government and the United Nations peacekeepers to better protect civilians from attacks."
During a research mission in Haut Uele last week, an Enough field researcher spoke to Congolese civilians who had received direct warnings from the LRA of fresh attacks against the villages of Ngilima, Bangadi and Niangara."Residents of Bangadi and Niangara, as well as local and international relief organizations, also reported having seen letters from the rebels threatening mass killings during the upcoming holiday period," recounted Enough field researcher Ledio Cakaj. "We spoke to former captives of the LRA who recently escaped. They frequently heard the rebels talk about 'celebrating' Christmas with the people of Ngilima, a clear reference to LRA attacks of last Christmas."
The LRA might be planning fresh Christmas attacks as a response to recent claims by the Congolese and Ugandan governments that the rebels are finished. Recent LRA attacks against Ngilima, Bangadi and Niangarademonstrate that the insurgency is far from over, and that the LRA is as brutal as ever. On November 26, a family of eight was burned alive by the LRA in their hut close to Bangadi. Similar attacks reported in the villages of Ngilima and Niangara have left more many dead. On December 2, LRA rebels captured and cut off the ears and lips of a man near Bangadi.On December 12, two men and a woman were mutilated by LRA rebels in Ngulu, 25 km southeast of Bangadi.
Although Congolese soldiers are stationed in a few LRA-affected areas, these forces are raping, killing, and looting the very population they are supposed to protect. “Living with the Congolese army is like living with a viper,” a local resident told Enough. “I have never seen worse behaving people throughout my life.”
U.N. peacekeepers are absent in the villages where the threat of LRA attacks is most acute. Humanitarian organizations have called for increased U.N. troops to provide civilian protection for the last two years. A new battalion of Tunisian peacekeepers was approved by the U.N. Security Council in November 2008, butthese badly needed reinforcements will not arrive in Orientale until at least February 2010.
The recurrent violence and inadequate U.N. protection have forced humanitarian organizations to suspend distribution of food in the hardest hit areas. Unable to cultivate their lands or access humanitarian aid, the residents of Bangadi, Ngilima and Niangara have grown desperate. "We are being exterminated by the LRA and from hunger," a resident of Bangadi told Enough.
"The status quo in northeastern Congo and other LRA affected areas is a miserable failure with an appalling human cost." said Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast. "As a matter of urgency, the United Nations Security Council must work with regional governments and other concerned nations to put in place a more effective counter-insurgency strategy to end the LRA threat once and for all."
Visit theEnough Project’s blog, Enough Said, for updates on this issue.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. 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. The RAISE Hope for Congo campaign aims to build a permanent and diverse constituency of activists advocating for effective change in eastern Congo, including an end to the long-running conflict and the resulting sexual violence against women and girls, and reforms to reduce trade by rebel groups in conflict minerals. To schedule an interview, please contact Eileen White Read at firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 202 641 0779.
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The Darfur peace process is at a crossroads. Until now, the mediation team has not produced a credible peace proposal and key external actors have not generated the necessary pressures and incentives to achieve an agreement.
By Omer Ismail, Colin Thomas-Jensen, Maggie Fick, and John Prendergast | Oct 13, 2009
STRATEGY PAPER: An Uneasy Alliance in Eastern Congo
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The human cost of Operation Kimia II—the ongoing joint military offensive by the Congolese army and United Nations peacekeepers against Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo—outweighs its benefits, argues a new strategy paper from Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress.
Although Kimia II has led to gains in the fight against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, by forcing the rebels to abandon a number of the lucrative mining areas that help sustain their insurgency, efforts to protect civilians during this offensive have been woefully inadequate. Since military operations against the FDLR began in January 2009, 800,000 people have fled their homes—the highest number of newly displaced in any African conflict.
Enough’s strategy paper, “An Uneasy Alliance in Eastern Congo,” calls on the Congolese government to take two immediate steps. First, it should suspend new offensive operations and focus on consolidating control over those areas that have already been cleared of the FDLR. Second, it should work vigorously with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, or MONUC, and international donors to put in place a more effective counterinsurgency approach that combines military pressure on FDLR leadership with greater incentives for FDLR rank-and-file militia members to lay down their arms and repatriate to Rwanda.
“Kimia II has been the worst of both worlds for civilians: They face predatory behavior from Congo’s abusive and haphazardly integrated national army, yet are not protected from predictable and devastating reprisal attacks from the FDLR,” says Enough Policy Advisor and report co-author Colin Thomas-Jensen. “Reducing and ultimately ending crimes against humanity demands a revamped counterinsurgency approach and the resources to carry it out effectively.”
Congo-based field researchers Noel Atama and Olivia Caeymaex co-authored the strategy paper.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. 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, contact Eileen White Read, 202.741.6376; email@example.com.
Center for American Progress, 1333 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005-4707 United States.
How do you defeat a dangerous insurgent group that has embedded itself within a civilian population? This vexing question is at the center of the ongoing debate over the counterinsurgency approach in Afghanistan--a conversation that plays itself out at the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, on Capital Hill, and through a seemingly endless herd of pundits on cable news shows, op-ed pages, and in the blogosphere. And there is a good reason for such a considered and public discussion. Beyond the direct involvement of U.S. forces, success in Afghanistan, however that is ultimately defined, has clear implications for international peace and security. Failure, says the cliché, is not an option.
The human cost of Operation Kimia II—the ongoing joint offensive by the Congolese army and United Nations peacekeepers against Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo—outweighs its benefits. To prevent this crisis from deteriorating further, and to ensure that those military gains that have been achieved can be secured, the Congolese government should suspend new offensive operations and work vigorously with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, or MONUC, and international donors to put in place a more effective counterinsurgency approach.
By Colin Thomas-Jensen, Noel Atama and Olivia Caeymaex | Sep 28, 2009
BOSTON — The war in Darfur is over? That’s what the outgoing general of the United Nations forces in that troubled African region says.
General Martin Agwai, who is leaving his post this week, said the vicious fighting over the past six years has subsided as the rebel groups have divided into insignificant factions. He says the Darfur region of Sudan now suffers more from low-level disputes and banditry, instead of war.
The top agenda items for today's White House meeting between President Obama and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are not a surprise; Middle East peace and combating extremism are the shared preoccupations that define U.S.-Egyptian relations. Yet a less obvious but no less urgent national security concern for Egypt is the situation in neighboring Sudan. President Mubarak shares President Obama's stated goal of lasting peace and stability in Sudan, and President Obama must seize this opportunity to leverage the United States' close relationship with Egypt into a genuine partnership to achieve this mutually desirable outcome.
Egypt's stakes in Sudan are extraordinarily high for one simple reason: the Nile River. The Blue Nile and White Nile Rivers converge at Sudan's capital Khartoum and the single waterway continues on toward Egypt and ultimately the Mediterranean. Any disruptions to the Nile's flow pose an existential threat to the Egyptians, and Cairo is thus directly implicated in and preoccupied by events not only in Sudan, but in the Nile's other riparian nations as well.
The constant refrain from Egyptian diplomats working on Sudan is the need for "stability," by which they mean two things: a strong central government in Khartoum with close ties to Cairo and unity between Sudan's North and South. The widespread belief in Cairo is that if Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) were to lose power, the country would descend into "Somalia-like" anarchy. Thus, any challenge to the NCP -- such as an armed rebellion or an international arrest warrant -- threatens Egypt's national security.
Similarly threatening to Egypt is the potential break-up of Sudan, which could occur in 2011 when southern Sudan is set to hold a self-determination referendum. Any such alteration to the current Sudanese state would force Cairo to negotiate its rights to the Nile with a new state -- one that could potentially seek to use the Nile to unlock its agricultural potential.
While Egypt's preferences in Sudan are evident, their position is increasingly untenable. The NCP's strong-arm tactics may seem to serve Egypt's short-term interests, but the way Sudan has been governed for the past two decades has rendered the country inherently unstable. Moreover, the prospects of a united Sudan diminish with each passing day, as southern secession seems a near certainty at this point.
If Egypt is going to be a constructive partner for the United States on Sudan, President Obama must hammer these points home and get President Mubarak to start thinking seriously about life after the NCP and the critical need for a peaceful and credible self-determination referendum for the South.
The good news is that President Mubarak could be a willing listener. He is a pragmatist and acutely aware of the NCP's recklessness, having survived an assassination attempt orchestrated by this very regime in 1995. The United States also has some significant leverage with Cairo, which receives some $1.5 billion U.S. in military assistance each year along with significant development funding.
So what can President Obama do to find some common ground with his Egyptian counterpart? We believe that President Obama should seek to secure President Mubarak's commitment to jointly forge a strong international coalition with a shared strategy for lasting peace in Sudan. The essential elements of such a strategy are the following:
Revitalize the Darfur peace process: The so-called Doha Process is on life support. There is no strategic leadership, and Egypt has actively sought to undermine the process out of sheer pettiness: Egypt sees the host Qatar as an upstart challenger to its traditional diplomatic role in the region. The United States should seek a formal partnership with Egypt--along with France, the United Kingdom, and, potentially, China and Libya--to support AU/UN mediation efforts. Giving Egypt a prominent (and deserved) seat at the table would help end the counterproductive proliferation of alternative processes, and empower mediator Djibril Bassolet to focus on achieving a political settlement.
Implement the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The North-South peace deal is in serious trouble, and the NCP continues to obstruct implementation and fuel conflict in the south. A poorly managed self-determination referendum for southern Sudan and a return to full-scale civil war would be disastrous for regional stability and likely pull Egypt more directly into a very messy conflict. The United States should enlist Egypt's support to put greater pressure on the NCP to adhere to its commitments under the CPA. In exchange, the Obama administration should help broker a deal between Egypt and the Government of Southern Sudan on water rights before the referendum and act as a guarantor.
If President Obama can secure President Mubarak's commitment on these two fronts, the prospects for lasting peace in Sudan will immediately improve.
The World’s Jeb Sharp reports for PRI on how the trade in minerals used in cell phones and laptops fuels the conflict in eastern Congo. Enough Project's Colin Thomas Jensen explains the link between cell phones and the world's deadliest conflict and estimates armed groups make between $100 to $180 million a year from conflict minerals.
The systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon in eastern Congo is "one of mankind's greatest atrocities," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday in a visit to a Congolese refugee camp to draw world attention to the problem.
But analysts say the U.S. must do more than treat the symptoms of a deep-rooted conflict that has taken more than 5 million lives in the central African nation in the past 13 years.
On the second day of her official trip to Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed in Nairobi, Kenya to express U.S. solidarity and support for the besieged transitional government in Mogadishu.
In their first face-to-face meeting, Secretary Clinton and President Sharif met behind closed doors for more than two hours at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.