Top Stories of 2012, part II: Getting the right voices heard
This is the second of three top stories we’re sharing from 2012, chosen by our team as demonstrations of our impact and shared as a token of our thanks. You can find the first post here.
The first time we ever heard from him, Fr. Benoit Kinalegu had an urgent message to share. On September 18, 2008, he wrote to sound an alarm over a wave of deadly LRA attacks against communities surrounding his town of Dungu in the remote northeastern area of Democratic Republic of Congo. Six communities had been simultaneously targeted by Kony’s forces the day before. In one village, Fr. Benoit said, the LRA marched 50 schoolchildren from their classroom straight into the bush.
A few days later, when we reached him by phone, he shared one request: that we help “make sure the world is informed about these atrocities.”
Afterward, we helped relay messages from Fr. Benoit and others on to the policymakers deciding how to respond to the LRA’s attacks in Congo. But his words were always more powerful than ours, and this year, we wanted Fr. Benoit to share his experiences directly. So in June of 2012, Fr. Benoit and Sr. Angelique Namaika, also from Congo, made the long journey to Washington.
Our team hosted them to meetings with government officials, many of whom were newly seized of the issue in the aftermath of the Kony 2012 film and looking for a way to help. In a testimony before the U.S. Congress, in regards to LRA atrocities, Fr. Benoit said that “the international community, and the government of the United States have taken note… But I am here to tell you personally that the situation on the ground remains dire for communities. The attacks continue and the LRA remains a serious threat, leaving in its wake hundreds of thousands of people displaced and deeply traumatized.” The following week, Members of Congress wrote to President Obama demanding increased funds be dedicated to help protect civilians vulnerable to LRA attacks.
After Washington, we hosted them to brief the United Nations Security Council in New York. Sr. Angelique shocked the delegates into silence by showing them images of her community members who were maimed in LRA attacks, disputing claims made by her government that the LRA was no longer a threat. In a unanimous statement the following week, the Security Council called for “an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA, particularly those on civilians.”
This year, many voices clamored with opinions about Joseph Kony and the LRA. The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative worked to make sure the right voices were heard, and polices were advanced that can actually help end LRA atrocities for good.
This work has to be sustained. Kony’s forces were still able to carry out 266 attacks that we recorded against civilians in 2012, and they must be stopped.
This week, we’re looking for just 20 people to sign up as The Resolve Cosponsors, committing as little as $20/month to protect our mission. Click here to help us out by becoming one of those 20 people today.