- March 28, 2013
Tuesday, we posted about how political upheaval in the Central African Republic (CAR) may threaten regional efforts to end LRA atrocities. Today, we received worrying news: it appears Uganda and the US have suspended operations to pursue the LRA, at least temporarily.
Initial reports suggest the US draw back was sparked by questions over whether the Ugandans intend to continue the mission. The US role is only advisory and depends on partner governments in the region to lead, particularly Uganda. While Ugandan officials announced publicly that they will sustain their operations, there are some reports suggesting this may not be the case and that they are still weighing options in the aftermath of the CAR change of government.
As we wrote Tuesday, the Ugandan-led, US-supported military operations, which were authorized by the African Union in 2011, have helped reduce the LRA threat significantly in recent years. LRA attacks, killings, and abductions of civilians have declined precipitously. However, the withdrawal of Ugandan and US forces now — or any time before Joseph Kony is captured and the group’s command structure fully dismantled — could allow these gains to be reversed.
The recent upheaval in CAR has caused a humanitarian crisis for much of the country and deserves urgent attention from the international community. It is possible that the broader dynamics there will eclipse operations against the LRA. However, it will be critical to guard against any decision to end regional counter-LRA efforts that is premature or unnecessary, as it will leave civilians much more exposed to further LRA atrocities and set back hopes for a permanent end to the crisis.