Major news! Congress provides millions in new funds to help stop LRA violence
Last week, in a major victory for Resolve’s efforts during 2011, Congress passed two budget bills that made tens of millions of dollars in new funding available to help communities being affected by LRA violence.
The 2012 defense authorization bill — passed Thursday — included a provision allocating up to $35 million to help protect communities from LRA attacks. Meanwhile, the foreign aid bill — passed Monday — called for “up to $10 million” in additional funds to support early-warning mechanisms and programs to help rescue and rehabilitate LRA abductees. To put that in context, the amount of U.S. foreign aid channeled to help deal with the LRA crisis will more than double if the Obama Administration now acts on these directives from Congress.
Hundreds of Resolve supporters lobbied their members of Congress this year for increased funding to help stop LRA atrocities, beginning with the Start Something to Finish It (S2F) campaign launched this past April. In response, 52 Senators and Representatives signed a letter — led by our champion Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and John Boozman (R-AR) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) — calling for increased funding to help address LRA violence. And throughout the year, our Resolve team worked with advocates in key Congressional districts across the U.S., helping them engage directly with their elected leaders to keep the momentum going.
We’re thrilled about these significant new developments and we’ll be working hard in the coming year to ensure they translate into life-saving action on the ground. Here’s a first draft of our top-five wish-list for how President Obama should direct these funds to be used:
#1: Dramatically expand the construction of mobile phone towers and HF radio networks in LRA-affected areas of central Africa to help provide early warning systems to communities most in danger of attack;
#2: Strengthen FM radio coverage to broadcast programs calling for LRA fighters and abductees to escape and return home;
#3: Rehabilitate important roads to allow for humanitarian and civilian protection access to remote communities (especially the road from Source Yubu, South Sudan to Obo, Central African Republic);
#4: Provide regional militaries with helicopters so they can react quickly to information about LRA movements and imminent threats against civilians; and
#5: Support the African Union’s initiative to help governments in the region coordinate their efforts against the LRA.
This week’s developments show what a difference our efforts together made in 2011. These increased funds will translate into programs that protect families from LRA violence and save lives.
Here’s to even greater victories in 2012.
P.S. In addition to the four Congressional champions mentioned above, we also want to offer a special thanks to Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) , Carl Levin (D-MI), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), as well as Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA09), Kay Granger (R-TX12), and Nita Lowey (D-NY12) for the leadership role they played in this victory. If you’re from one of their states or districts, take a moment to send them a thank-you via phone or email.