Today we released the LRA Crisis Tracker January – March 2013 Quarterly Security Brief, which analyzes patterns in LRA activity in the first three months of the year. Key trends in LRA activity, highlighted in the report’s Executive Summary, are reproduced above. The full report, available here, includes maps of LRA attacks and additional analysis on people who escaped or were released from the LRA.
Posts by Paul
Today we partnered with the Enough Project and Invisible Children to release Kony’s Ivory: How Elephant Poaching in Congo Helps Support the Lord’s Resistance Army. Jonathan Hutson and Kasper Agger at Enough Project authored the report, and we provided some of the research material. I’ve asked our researcher Paul Ronan to share the key takeaways by answering five questions below.
Gimme the basics – how often are LRA fighters killing elephants and where?
The LRA’s poaching of elephants has been concentrated in Garamba National Park, a large reserve in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). LRA fighters first moved into Garamba in September 2005, and rumors of LRA fighters killing elephants and harvesting ivory have been circulating since at least 2008. However, in the past year a number of LRA escapees have provided eyewitness testimony of increased poaching by LRA, which has been corroborated by clashes between park rangers and suspected LRA poaching parties. For now, it remains unclear how much ivory the LRA has harvested in the past several years.
Is the poaching the work of rogue LRA groups, or do orders come from the top?
Most signs point to Joseph Kony directly ordering LRA fighters to kill elephants in Garamba and harvest ivory, as has been reported by several Congolese and Ugandan defectors who escaped the LRA since early 2012. Kony reportedly tasked Lt. Col. Binansio “Binany” Okumu, who oversaw LRA operations in Congo, with collecting the ivory. Binany was killed in January 2013 by Ugandan troops after returning from a meeting with Kony in the Sudanese-controlled Kafia Kingi enclave. With Binany dead, it’s unclear how frequently the LRA continues to poach elephants.
Does the LRA’s harvesting of ivory signal a shift in their survival tactics?
Possibly. Kony has never before ordered LRA fighters to trade in extremely valuable goods, making his order to poach elephants significant (even if looting small communities remains the LRA’s primary survival tactic). However, Kony’s decision could backfire, especially if remaining LRA combatants become more disillusioned and believe the LRA is drifting further from its core goal of seizing power in Uganda and is becoming just another bandit group in the region.
Is there a connection between the LRA poaching elephants and the new evidence of their relationship with the Sudanese military?
Most likely. Several former Ugandan LRA combatants have testified that LRA combatants, under Kony’s orders, sold or gave ivory to Sudanese troops in Kafia Kingi. This may have been an attempt to curry favor with Sudanese troops who had given LRA troops permission to camp in Kafia Kingi. For more on the relationship between the LRA and Sudan, see our April 2013 report Hidden in Plain Sight: Sudan’s Harboring of the LRA in the Kafia Kingi Enclave.
Is the LRA the only armed group poaching elephants?
Though the LRA poses a serious threat wildlife in the region, it is by no means the only armed group in the region killing elephants in search of ivory. Garamba park rangers believe that that Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Ugandan troops are also poaching elephants in the park, along with other armed poachers. In nearby CAR, Chad, and Cameroon, heavily armed poachers are wiping out massive numbers of elephants on a far larger scale than the LRA. Improving civilian protection and keeping elephants and other wildlife safe requires a comprehensive approach that looks beyond just the LRA. For more on that, check out the report or the work of World Wildlife Fund.
Last week we highlighted calls from Ugandan (and international) civil society groups urging the Ugandan government to reinstate the amnesty provisions stripped out of Uganda’s Amnesty Act in May 2012. Encouragingly, Ugandan officials actually listened and reinstated the amnesty provisions. (See a joint civil society statement welcoming the move below).
Crucially, the reinstatement gives returnees from the LRA (with the possible exception of senior commanders) the right to receive an amnesty certificate and a reintegration package. However, the Amnesty Commission is in shambles after years of underfunding, delays in appointing top officials, and uncertainty over the future of the Act. Many of the people who have returned from the LRA in recent years have not received their entire reintegration package, and there are few organizations providing trauma healing and psychological assistance. The Commission’s credibility has also been damaged by the Ugandan military’s periodic efforts to force ex-LRA combatants into military service without an adequate opportunity to apply for amnesty. Furthermore, northern Ugandans have very complex views of amnesty, highlighting the need for returnees from the LRA to have opportunities to participate in reconciliation activities with LRA-affected communities.
The Amnesty Act has great potential as a tool to help end the LRA conflict, help returnees reintegration into society, and promote broader reconciliation, but only if we remember amnesty is more than certificate.
“Amnesty reinstatement: Press statement from civil society organisations
Welcoming the Full Restoration and Extension of the Uganda Amnesty Act
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
GULU – We the civil society organisations, community and religious leaders welcome the decision by the Government of Uganda to reinstate Part II of the Amnesty Act, and to extend the duration of the whole Act for a further period of two years, in accordance with the recent Resolution of Parliament.
We recall with satisfaction the comprehensive and thorough Report of the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs which reflected the views of the various stakeholders and the victim-communities, and congratulate the Government for affirming the decision and conclusions of Parliament.
We remain confident that the amnesty will continue, as before, to be a critical tool for ending conflict in Uganda, and for promoting social peace and genuine reconciliation within communities affected by the conflict.
We will endeavour to make known widely the decision of the Government to restore the amnesty, pledge to play our part in encouraging any person still involved in armed rebellion to take advantage of the restored amnesty, which is a gesture of reconciliation and goodwill on the part of the people of Uganda.
We call upon the Amnesty Commission, and the Government of Uganda as a whole, to redouble efforts to make full use of the amnesty law in promoting peace and genuine reconciliation.
We remain committed to working with the Commission, Parliament, the Government and all other stakeholders to realise lasting peace within Uganda and in any country that is affected adversely by any of Uganda’s armed rebellions.
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Concerned Parents Association
Gulu NGO Forum
Human Rights Focus, Gulu
Iteso Cultural Union
Justice and Peace Commission, Gulu
Ker Kwaro Acholi
Refugee Law Project
Sheik Musa Khelil – Chief Khadi of Acholi
The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
The Enough Project
The Rt. Rev. John Gakumba, the Lord Bishop of Northern Uganda
The Rt. Rev M. Baker Ochola – (retired Bishop, Kitgum Diocese)
The Rt. Rev Nelson Onweng – (retired Bishop, Diocese of Northern Uganda)
Uganda Historical Memory & Reconciliation Council
Uganda National Advisory Centre for Men”
Just over a year ago I wrote a post arguing that the Ugandan government should renew the country’s Amnesty Act because it was crucial to encouraging members of the LRA to peacefully return home. I guess Ugandan ministers don’t read our blog very closely, because a few weeks later the Ugandan government gutted the Act, removing the provision that allows returning members of the LRA and other armed groups to receive amnesty.
A year later, the cost of this decision is clear. Dozens of Ugandans have escaped or defected from the LRA and returned home, only to find themselves in a legal limbo, unable to receive amnesty. This not only includes former male combatants, but also women abducted years ago as young girls who have now have no legal protection from the Ugandan government. Though the Ugandan government is unlikely to prosecute women who return from the LRA, they can use the lack of an amnesty offer as leverage to force former male combatants to join the Ugandan military and fight against the LRA.
Just as disturbing, the work of the Amnesty Commission has almost ground to a halt. Though no longer able to grant amnesty, the remaining sections of the Amnesty Act that were spared the axe last year allowed the Amnesty Commission to continue providing reintegration support to people returning from the LRA. However, the Amnesty Commission has struggled to secure funding and is erratic, at best, in providing new returnees fresh from the LRA with assistance in restarting their lives.
This week, the Ugandan government has a chance to reverse course and reinstate the amnesty-granting provision of the Amnesty Act. Uganda’s Parliament has expressed support for such a move, as have civil society leaders from across Uganda (see below for a joint statement released today which The Resolve supported). Let’s hope that the Ugandan government listens to their voices.
“Welcoming the Resolution of Parliament to Restore the Amnesty Act
Amnesty reinstatement: Press statement from civil society organisations
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
GULU – We the civil society organisations and community and religious leaders welcome the resolution of the Parliament of Uganda on 15th May 2013 calling on the Government to reinstate Part II of the Amnesty Act, which was lapsed on 23rd May 2012, and also to extend the duration of the Act, including Part II, for two more years.
We heartily congratulate the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee for its thorough and well-considered report, which reflected the views of the various stakeholders and the victim-communities.
We call upon His Excellency the President, the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Attorney General, in particular, to ensure that the resolution of Parliament, which received support across the political spectrum, is urgently implemented before the Act lapses on 24th May 2013.
We are confident that the restoration of the amnesty will make a positive contribution to the cause of peace in Uganda and the region, by facilitating the defection of rebels, and encouraging other rebel groups to settle their grievances peacefully with the Government.
We are aware that the Government of Uganda proposes to develop further principles for addressing the past, but we are convinced that it is essential first to reinstate Part II of the Amnesty Act, even as proposals on transitional justice are developed in a considered, unhurried manner.
We will continue to work with all stakeholders and the Government to bring sustainable peace to Uganda and the region.
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Concerned Parents Association
Gulu NGO Forum
Human Rights Focus, Gulu
Iteso Cultural Union
Justice and Peace Commission, Gulu
Justice and Reconciliation Project
Ker Kwaro Acholi
Refugee Law Project
The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
Rt. Bishop M. Baker Ochola – Kitgum Archdiocese
Rt. Bishop Onono Onweng – Diocese of northern Uganda
Rt. Rev. Canon Johnson Gakumba – Diocese of northern Uganda
Sheik Musa Khelil – Chief Khadi of Acholi
Uganda Historical Memory & Reconciliation Council”
In June 2012, to great fanfare, the UN Secretary General released a UN regional strategy on the LRA. The strategy was designed to help coordinate and improve the counter-LRA efforts of the alphabet soup of UN agencies, peacekeeping missions, and senior officials working on the crisis. For donors and civil society groups, one particular hope was that the UN would create a list of “priority projects” whose implementation could help fill critical gaps in the field.
Unfortunately, that hope has been stuck in a bureacratic purgatory ever sense. UN officials circulated the first drafts of the priority projects in mid-2012, but disappointed many with their lack of detail. Progress in developing the list was so slow that in December 2012 the UN Security Council formally requested the Secretary General to submit a list of priority projects as part of a broader implementation plan for the strategy.
Unfortunately, the list of 17 priority projects submitted to the Council by the Secretary General in April 2013 was little better than the initial drafts. The project descriptions lacked detailed cost estimates, analysis of how they’d add value to existing initatives, and are extremely vague about specific activities and timelines. Donor countries interested in funding quality projects are extremely frustrated by poor quality of the UN effort, and at the moment any hope of enticing new non-traditional donors is far-fetched.
Why has the UN done such a terrible job at a seemingly simple task? It’s not for lack of ideas: everyone working LRA issues can identify key gaps that need to be filled, and there’s a broad consensus on a few key projects, such as rehabiliting the key road connecting South Sudan and CAR. The biggest problem may be that the SG tasked the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) with compiling the list. UNOCA lacks the programmatic expertise that UN agencies working in the field have, and is so understaffed it doesn’t even have one dedicated person to help SRSG Abou Moussa coordinate the UN LRA strategy.
So at least for now, UNOCA clearly lacks the ability to get the myraid UN agencies and missions operational in LRA-affected areas to cooperate in identifying realistic projects and putting together solid proposals that can reassure donors they won’t be wasting their money. Unfortunately, the SG’s office has simply ignored the fact that the list of projects they’re submitting to the Council and donors have little hope of being funded or implemented in the near future, in the process making a mockery of the Council’s request for “priority projects.”
When the Council takes up the issue of the LRA at the end of the month, they’ll face the unpleasant choice of either finding a way to pressure the Secretary General to take implementation of the UN LRA strategy seriously, or simply acquiesing to its slow march towards irrelevancy.
Today, we released a new report documenting Sudanese support to the LRA from October 2009 until at least February 2013. You can download it here in full. The report shows that for the last four years the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) allowed LRA fighters – including Joseph Kony himself – to periodically use the Kafia Kingi enclave as a safe haven from which to avoid pursuing troops.
Kafia Kingi is a territory straddling the borders of Sudan, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. It is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan but currently controlled by Sudan. Ugandan-led forces pursuing Kony, authorized by the African Union, are not allowed access to the area.
The information in the report stems mostly from the testimonies of eight different LRA defectors who confirmed LRA movements into Kafia Kingi. Five of those defectors confirmed that LRA fighters met with SAF personnel near the SAF garrison at Dafak in Kafia Kingi. SAF personnel also provided LRA forces with limited material support, largely in the form of basic medicine and food supplies. The SAF previously provided arms, training, and safe haven to the LRA from 1994 until 2004, but their quiet renewal of support since 2009 has gone largely undocumented by the international community.
The report also includes satellite imagery showing the likely location of Joseph Kony’s recent camp within the enclave. Matching intelligence shared by LRA defectors, the imagery shows the camp was established in late 2011 along the banks of the Umbelasha River and then abandoned between February and March of 2013.
Support of any kind from Sudan to the LRA presents a serious threat to the success of current efforts to end LRA violence in the region, which has now stretched nearly three decades. However, the news in the report isn’t all bad. Significantly, no evidence has yet surfaced suggesting Sudan has provided new arms to the LRA. Moreover, the fact that the LRA was allowed to operate from disputed territory — with very limited evidence of their movement into Sudan proper — suggests that the Sudanese may be opting to keep Kony at arm’s length.
This silver lining underscores the importance of diplomatic efforts to prevent further support from flowing to Kony from the Sudanese government. In the report, we recommend that the African Union take the lead in negotiating directly with Sudan to see that happen, with support from governments of LRA-affected countries, the United Nations, and other concerned members of the international community such as the United States.
Our thanks go out to partners at Invisible Children and Enough Project, who co-produced the report and provided invaluable input, as well as to Amnesty International USA and DigitalGlobe for providing the satellite imagery and analysis. And as always, we are grateful to all of those who shared their stories with me and other researchers in the hopes that it would make a difference.
- Paul Ronan
Next week I’ll be heading back out to LRA-affected areas to launch a research project examining how best to encourage members of the LRA to escape peacefully and defect from the rebel group. I’ll be working with a small team of researchers, and traveling to CAR, DR Congo, Uganda, and South Sudan.
It’s an exciting time to be doing research on LRA defections. In recent months, there’s been renewed momentum to encourage defections from the LRA. As we pointed out in our latest LRA Crisis Tracker report, US military advisers and NGOs in the field are using innovative new tools, such as helicopter-mounted speakers, to break through to LRA groups with messages highlighting opportunities to return home. The UN has also finalized Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation of the LRA members, a long-overdue attempt to better coordinate processes for receiving, repatriating, and reintegrating people who return from the LRA.
Despite this progress, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of how best to encourage defections from the LRA and in the implementation of effective defections initiatives. To help fill some of those gaps, our research will focus on several topics, including:
-What mediums are already being used to encourage defections from the LRA;
-Which actors are implementing defection initiatives, and the level of coordination between initiatives;
-How donors and actors in the field working on defections initiatives can most effectively fill remaining programmatic gaps and improve coordination;
-Which LRA commanders are more likely to be receptive to defections messaging, and how to best target defections messaging to encourage them to defect.
Time permitting, I’ll be tweeting and writing blog posts in the next several weeks as the research gets underway. You can follow me at @pauldronan.
*photo credit: Invisible Children
Today we released the 2012 LRA Crisis Tracker Annual Security Brief. The brief analyzes trends and patterns in LRA activity from January – December 2012 and compares LRA activity between 2010, 2011, and 2012. You can download the pdf here, or view the report online in the plug-in above.
For those of you hesitant to read another densely-worded thesis by a DC-based NGO: fear not. This report will dazzle you (we hope) with a mix of maps, charts, and graphs. It’s no Beyonce half-time show, but we did our best.
The top six trends from the report, including a spike in Ugandan combatant defections in 2012, are pasted below. The full report includes analysis on LRA weapons use, size of attacking forces, and patterns in the location of large scale abductions/killings and the relation of LRA attacks to time of day.
1. LRA violence spiked in the first half of 2012 (191 attacks) and then tapered off in the second half of the year (84 attacks).
This trend is similar to LRA activity patterns seen in 2010 and 2011. These patterns have been influenced by the LRA’s tendency to reduce attacks during the rainy season, and indicate that civilians are at increased risk of LRA violence in the first several months of 2013.
2. Senior LRA commanders are operating primarily in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Sudanese-controlled Kafia Kingi enclave.
Commanders operating primarily in these areas include International Criminal Court-indictees Joseph Kony, Dominic Ongwen, and Okot Odhiambo. Maj. John Bosco Kibwola and Col. Otto Agweng, two increasingly influential LRA commanders, are also reported to be in CAR or Kafia Kingi. Lt. Col. Vincent Binansio “Binany” Okumu, formerly a personal bodyguard to Kony, was allegedly the ranking LRA commander in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo) for much of 2012. He was killed by the Ugandan military in CAR in January 2013.
3. The number of Ugandan adult males returning from the LRA increased in 2012.
Though accurately tracking Ugandan returnees from the LRA is difficult, the LRA Crisis Tracker recorded a spike in the number of Ugandan adult males who escaped or were captured in 2012. Because the LRA can no longer actively recruit Ugandans, each Ugandan adult male who returns from the group is a significant loss to the LRA’s core fighting force and command structure. Of the 20 who returned in 2012, 15 saw or heard defection messaging in the form of leaflets, FM or shortwave radio broadcasts, or helicopter-mounted speakers. In addition, 8 surrendered to newly introduced Safe Reporting Sites in CAR.
4. The majority of LRA abductees in 2012 were adults used as temporary porters, not children trained to become future fighters.
Available data indicates that 69% of LRA abductees in 2012 were adults and 64% of all 2012 abductees escaped or were released within one month of their abduction. The preference for temporary adult abductees suggests that instead of seeking to train young children as new fighters, the LRA is in need of strong adults capable of carrying heavy loads of looted goods.
5. In 2012, LRA groups committed unusually large and brazen attacks in areas of CAR beyond the reach of Ugandan troops and US military advisers.
These include the massacre of 13 artisanal gold miners on a hunting reserve northeast of Bangassou, an attack on a French uranium mining camp in Bakouma, and the abduction of 97 people in two separate attacks near Fode. LRA groups have directed threats of future attacks at communities in this area. There are few CAR troops deployed in this area and it is largely out of reach for Ugandan troops and US military advisers, who are deployed further east in CAR.
6. The LRA is intentionally killing fewer people.
LRA combatants killed a total of 51 civilians in 2012, the lowest figure since 2007. The LRA killed civilians in only 10% of total attacks in 2012, compared to 30% in 2011 and 50% in 2010. Similarly, the average number of people killed per attack has decreased steadily in the past three years: 1.5 (2010), 0.52 (2011), and 0.18 (2012). Though the LRA’s fighting force has been reduced since 2010, the drop in killings does not indicate that the group no longer has the capacity to kill civilians or commit large massacres.This trend is also the result of a strategic decision by Kony in mid-2011 to reduce killings of civilians.
Invisible Children and The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative recently released the 2012 LRA Crisis Tracker Quarter 3 Security Brief (you can see the French version here). The brief analyzes LRA activity from July-September 2012. Check out some highlights from the brief below:
-There was a 42% drop in reported LRA attacks from Quarter 2 to Quater 3 2012. This drop mirrors a similar reduction in attacks from Q2-Q3 in 2010 and 2011.
-Most senior LRA commanders are thought to be operating out of southeastern and northeastern Central African Republic, as well as the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave on the border of Sudan and South Sudan that is currently controlled by Sudan.
-The majority of reported LRA attacks in Q3 occurred in Democratic Republic of Congo, clustered in Haut-Uele district. However, the most severe attack occurred north of Bangassou, CAR in early September. In that attack LRA forces abducted an estimated 49 civilians and killed 2 other civilians during the abduction. All of those abducted either escaped or were later released, and several escapees reported the LRA combatants raped many of the abducted women and girls, including an eight-year-old girl.
-There was an average of 0.18 people killed per LRA attacks in Q3 2012, continuing a trend observed over the past year of severely reduced killings by the LRA. The trend was particularly pronounced in Congo during Q3 2012, where LRA forces killed only 1 civilian in 39 attacks there.
For more information on the sourcing and methodology of the report, see pages 7-8 of the brief, or the LRA Crisis Tracker Codebook and Methodology v. 1.6. As always, shoot us an email (email@example.com) with any questions or suggestions for future reports.
Earlier this month, I visited South Sudan’s Western Bahr el-Ghazal State (WBeG) for the first time. Though it receives little attention, the LRA has been active in this state since at least 2010, and my visit aimed to dig up more information on what is happening and what can be done to protect people there from LRA violence. Starting off in the state capital, Wau, I drove north to Raga, the last major town before reaching Sudan’s South Darfur region further to the north.
Later this week, I’ll write more about LRA activity in the region. For this first post, I want focus on the broader dynamics affecting the security situation, as communities in WBeG are facing issues that go beyond the threat posed by LRA attacks and that are important to understand.
Unlike in the neighboring South Sudan state of Western Equatoria, where people fear the LRA more than any other security threats, people in WBeG are primarily concerned about the ongoing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan. Many still remember invasions and bombings carried out by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) during the civil war here, which officially ended in 2005 with the partition of Sudan and South Sudan into two countries. If continued tensions along the border between the two countries escalate into open violence, people in WBeG could be among the first to suffer.
Much of the tension in this area is centered around an area called the Kafia Kingi enclave (in light red). Kafia Kingi is on the border between South Sudan and Sudan, is rich in mineral resources, and is claimed by both countries. Using borders drawn by British colonial authorities in 1956, South Sudan claims Kafia Kingi as part of WBeG. However, the enclave has been governed by Sudan as part of the state of South Darfur since 1960, and the SAF currently has bases in several enclave towns, including Kafia Kingi, Dafak, and Hofrat en Nahas. The past year has seen frequent clashes between the two governments’ forces in the area, including SAF bombings in WBeG and a brief occupation of parts of the enclave by South Sudanese forces in May 2012. This tension has been heightened by reports that South Sudan has allowed rebel groups from Darfur, who oppose the Sudan government, to periodically establish a presence in WBeG.
Even if ongoing border tensions do not lead to full-scale war, their impact on daily life is still felt. Last year, the Sudanese government closed the major border crossings to South Sudan, slowing the flow of goods to towns like Raga and Wau that have historically relied on goods coming from Sudan. Fuel and household goods now arrive via Uganda and Kenya, a longer route that has contributed to an increase in the price of goods and fuel. Border closures have also slowed cross-border movements of people, many of whom historically cross the border for livelihood opportunities or to visit family.
On September 27, the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments signed a series of agreements and protocols that dealt with movements of people along the border. Following the signing, Sudan immediately announced plans to reopen border crossings between the two countries. The agreements offer a sliver of hope that security along the border region will improve and allow people and goods to move freely and safely. However, the agreements leave many border issues unresolved and it remains to be seen whether senior officials in both governments will actually implement them, as they have already faced sharp criticism from some leaders from border communities in South Sudan as well as hard-liners in the Sudan government.
In the past two to three years, Joseph Kony and other leaders of the LRA have exploited these tensions and moved some of their fighters into and through this area. More on that later this week.
In the past few weeks we’ve highlighted some trends in the LRA’s abduction patterns (see here and here), specifically how LRA groups have been abducting more adults and less children. Today we’re briefly highlighting another trend in LRA activity: a steady decline in the number of civilian fatalities per attack.
The above graph demonstrates this trend very clearly. The average number of people killed per attack has decreased steadily in the past two years: 1.5 (2010), .52 (2011), and .18 (2012). Of all the attacks in 2012, there have only been 21 incidents of the LRA killing civilians, 19 of those including 2 fatalities or less. While the lower numbers are a positive sign, steady levels of population displacement in LRA-affected areas over the past two years indicate that communities are still very fearful of LRA violence. And, as we discussed last week, the lower numbers do not necessarily reflect a decline in the LRA’s capacity.
And as always, be sure to check out the LRA Crisis Tracker for updated reports and attack alerts.
This past week Conciliation Resources helped bring together civil society leaders comprising the Regional Civil Society Task Force, which includes members from four LRA-affected countries, to a meeting in Bangui, CAR. The task force released nine resolutions and recommendations focusing on the disarmament of the LRA, rehabilitation of those affected, and reconciliation for the region. Our friend Sister Angelique Namaika, who you might remember from her visit to DC in June as she testified on the LRA to members of Congress, was present in the group. We’ve listed their resolutions below – all of which we fully support:
1.To continue a collective pursuit to engage policymakers in the respective countries and advocate for peaceful strategies for resolving the conflict.
2.Engage our Governments and Parliaments to be more present in LRA affected areas that are isolated and far from the capitals with negligible services, security and communication infrastructure.
3.In light of the LRA’s known record of reprisals, we call for no offensive operations against the LRA without effective measures taken to protect civilians.
4.Call for response to the needs of the affected communities in terms of humanitarian support, psychosocial services and income generating activities.
5.Commit fully to our moral obligation to save lives of many innocent children abducted against their will, and do what it takes to facilitate their safe return and reintegration in their respective communities.
6.Call on national government and internationals to support community centers that can contribute to psycho-social healing of returnees and affected communities particularly women and young people.
7.Impress on our respective governments to put in place the necessary legislation to grand Amnesty to the defectors and promote reconciliation.
8.Recognize the intertwined nature between the Mbororo and the LRA conflict and contribute to addressing this issue peacefully on a regional scale.
9.Undertake activities in our respective countries and regionally to:
a.) Collect pertinent information relating to the LRA conflict, document, disseminate and archive for posterity
b.) Reach out to the LRA in order to encourage their safe return into the communities
c.) Reach out in solidarity to the affected communities
d.) Contribute to the issue of protection of civilians in a holistic way. Ensure that it becomes central to response strategies
e.) Continue advocacy efforts at local, national, regional and international levels
*photo courtesy of Sarah Bradford, Conciliation Resources