About the Crisis
For over two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has terrorized central Africa, targeting civilians in a brutal campaign of abduction, murder and forced displacement. The LRA was founded in northern Uganda in 1986 by Joseph Kony in response to the marginalization of that region by the Ugandan government. However, the LRA soon lost popular support in northern Uganda and evolved into a group that survives by terrorizing communities and abducting children to fight its battles. In recent years it has not been active in Uganda, but instead operates in the remote border area between Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR).
In its 24 years under the direction of Joseph Kony, the LRA has been responsible for the following:
The perpetration of mass atrocities: The Lord’s Resistance Army is responsible for grave crimes against civilians, including the mass killings, rapes, and mutilations of thousands of Ugandan, South Sudanese, Central African and Congolese civilians. Since September 2008, the LRA has embarked on one of the most devastating waves of violence in its history, killing over 2,400 people, abducting over 3,400, and displacing upwards of 460,000.
The enslavement of children: In order to replenish its ranks, the LRA has forcibly-recruited thousands of children to be used as soldiers and sex slaves. In northern Uganda alone, Kony and his forces abducted an estimated 30,000 children.
The disruption of communities: LRA attacks have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda over the past two decades. These attacks have disrupted the very fabric of community life, targeting schools, churches and marketplaces.
The communities that LRA violence has affected most are already among the poorest and most remote in all of Africa. The LRA targets people, such as the Acholi and the Zande, that have little representation in the governments througout the region. These governments and their military forces have neglected to protect civilians from the LRA and have committed widespread abuses against civilians themselves.
U.S. and international leaders have consistently underestimated or ignored the strength and tenacity of the LRA, which has contributed to half-hearted policy measures that have failed to stop LRA violence and allowed Joseph Kony and his commanders to cut a swath of human destruction across central Africa.
We seek an end to these injustices and greater leadership towards lasting peace from regional and international leaders .
How It Ends
On May 24, 2010, President Barack Obama sparked hope for new U.S. and international will to address this crisis by signing into law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. In his statement, President Obama said, “I signed this bill today recognizing that we must all renew our commitments and strengthen our capabilities to protect and assist civilians caught in the LRA’s wake, to receive those that surrender, and to support efforts to bring the LRA leadership to justice.” This legislation gives the Obama Administration an unprecedented mandate from Congress and the American public to lead international efforts to permanently end LRA atrocities and help rebuild war-affected communities.
We believe the United States has a unique role in helping to end the conflict, and The Resolve’s mission for the past four years has been creating the political mandate necessary for the US to fulfill that role. We also believe that this political mandate will only be secured through effective, informed activism. Because of this, we have sought to bring as much information as possible to the forefront of the discussion. We hope this information will serve as a launching pad for people to better understand the complexity of the conflict, why it demands our attention and what role we can play in achieving a lasting peace.
Where to go from here
History: The Resolve’s extensive account of the roots of the conflict, its evolution over the past 24 years and what action has been taken by the international community to bring peace to the region.
LRA and Regional Conflict Library: A collection of reports, books and articles from civil society groups, academics and media for people interested in further exploring the conflict.
LRA Strategy Power Players: From President Obama to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a look at our leaders’ commitment to ending the conflict.
Key Statistics: The most current numbers of people killed, abducted, and displaced by the LRA in Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda.