Blog Posts for 2012
- Prioritize civilian protection, especially during military attacks against the LRA;
- Call for a regional and very representative conference on the real motivations of the LRA;
- Take on the command Regional Task Force’s coordination;
- Demand effective and proportional commitment from affected countries;
- Urge other African countries to join the task force;
- Foster positive military cooperation among affected countries.
- Pay attention and be effectively involved in the LRA issue;
- Mobilize sufficient funds for humanitarian assistance;
- Expand humanitarian coverage in the neediest areas;
- Mobilize funds and essential material support in favor of the African Union in its regional strategy roll out;
- Support specialized international organizations in fact-finding on the LRA supply chain;
- Intensify DDRRR so to encourage defections from the LRA.
- Favor their population’s interests and well-being;
- Ensure civilian’s protection;
- As sovereign states, commit to the resolution of the LRA crisis in their respective countries;
- Subscribe to regional cooperation at diplomatic, political, and military levels;
- Allocate a consistent budget to address the LRA crisis;
- Involve the local communities in the search for solutions to the LRA crisis.
- Fulfill their role of people’s representative at various levels;
- Be the voice of their suffering communities;
- Advocate for the protection and the wellbeing of their people;
- Monitor and evaluate the actions agreed upon to the LRA crisis.
- Persistent prayers for peace restoration;
- Involvement in peaceful conflict resolution;
- To unite, rise up their voice, and join hands for protection of life and property;
- Readiness to welcome and forgive LRA defectors and victims;
- In solidarity, extend assistance to the victims.
- Ensure sufficient media coverage on the LRA issue;
- Monitor government’s commitment to the LRA eradication;
- Contribute to the debates on the real motives behind the LRA’s regional expansion.
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.
This week we are sharing three top stories from 2012, chosen by our team as demonstrations of our impact and shared as a token of our thanks.
Our first is a story that stands above the rest as a sign of hope for our work. Contributions from The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative supporters enabled us to advance U.S. actions that helped a wave of LRA fighters and abductees escape from the group in 2012 — maybe even as many as the previous three years combined.
With adequate resources, there are tools we’ve long advocated for that can overcome the fear that Kony and his senior commanders use to prevent LRA fighters and abductees from trying to escape. Way back in 2010, we argued successfully that expanding use of these tools should be a central aim of President Obama’s LRA strategy, which was then being drafted.
The two most effective tools that we highlighted are leaflets that can be dropped by air or tied to trees in areas of suspected LRA movement and FM radio broadcasts. Both mediums often feature messages from previous LRA escapees or family members of LRA fighters, encouraging those who remain in the bush to defy Kony and come home. In areas as remote as the parts of central Africa where the LRA operates it takes significant resources to make these tools work, so we also worked with activists and Members of Congress to secure increased resources for them in the U.S. budget.
Those efforts are now paying off as programs to help LRA fighters and abductees to escape from the group are being expanded rapidly. In one example of their impact, The Resolve’s researcher Paul Ronan interviewed a Ugandan man in October who had been abducted by the LRA in 1996 at age 17, near the town of Gulu in Uganda. Even though he had spent almost half his life being forced to fight for Kony, he gained courage to escape after picking up a leaflet featuring a message from Caesar Achellam, an LRA commander who was captured by Ugandan forces in May.
New leadership from the U.S. is now helping these efforts go one step further. After recognizing that LRA commanders can prevent their abductees from hearing radio messages or picking up fliers, U.S. military advisors deployed to the region last year found a way to send messages that no one can stop. Using industrial speakers mounted to the bottom of helicopters, they are broadcasting “come home” messages directly to the LRA in overhead flights. Our work in 2012 helped convinced President Obama to extend the deployment of those advisors so these efforts can continue.
The work we do often takes much longer than we wish, but the results can be game-changing. Though it is difficult to monitor, the reports we received indicate that 41 LRA fighters defected in 2012, which is more than we recorded in the previous three years combined. Many others abducted more recently by the LRA — but not yet promoted as fighters — have also been aided in escaping.
These are the kinds of results that have to be sustained. Kony’s forces were still able to carry out 266 attacks against civilians that we recorded in 2012. They must be stopped for good, and The Resolve’s research and advocacy programs are helping make that happen.
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.
To peace in 2013–
*photo credits: Invisible Children
On Dec. 4th, the US Senate passed next year’s defense authorizations bill after adding a new provision urging sustained commitment for efforts to help end LRA atrocities. The amendment was introduced by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE), who chairs the Africa Subcommittee. It passed unanimously. The full text is below.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his support when the amendment went for a vote. According to the official Congressional record, Levin commended Senators Inhofe and Coons and added, “The determination to go after Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is essential not just in terms of the values that we so dearly believe in, but also in terms of avoiding further slaughter that has been perpetrated by Kony.”
The amendment was added just a week after more than 700 activists from across the country met with their representatives in Congress as part of MOVE:DC, the culminating event of the KONY 2012 campaign.
A second provision in the final bill specifically authorizes new funds for surveillance tools that help locate LRA groups. We wrote about it when it was added in June. Before becoming law, this legislation must first be reconciled with a version passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives that did not include either of the two LRA-related provisions.
SEC. 1246. EFFORTS TO REMOVE JOSEPH KONY FROM POWER AND END ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY.
Consistent with the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–172), it is the sense of the Senate that—
(1) the ongoing United States advise and assist operation to support the regional governments in Africa in their ongoing efforts to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield and end atrocities perpetuated by his Lord’s Resistance Army should continue;
(2) using amounts authorized to be appropriated by section 301 and specified in the funding table in section 4301 for Operation and Maintenance, Defense-wide for ‘‘Additional ISR Support to Operation Observant Compass’’, the Secretary of Defense should provide increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to support the ongoing efforts of United States Special Operations Forces to advise and assist regional partners as they conduct operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa;
(3) United States and regional African forces should increase their operational coordination; and
(4) the regional governments should recommit themselves to the operations sanctioned by the African Union Peace and Security Council resolution.
Today, we joined ten other organizations in jointly releasing a new report revealing that the United Nations has failed to make meaningful progress in implementing its strategy to address LRA atrocities in the six months since it was released. You can read the full report here.
In Getting Back on Track: Implementing the UN Regional Strategy on the LRA, we hold the UN strategy against its own standards and show that progress has been slow to nonexistent in most areas. Key measures that should have been implemented by now — such as expanded communications infrastructure in LRA-affected areas, agreement among all actors for how to treat LRA abductees who escape, and cooperation among regional governments in the African Union’s regional military mission — have not been reached.
When we first wrote about the UN strategy, we applauded its content but noted many of these same challenges to seeing it implemented. The report highlights inadequate donor funds, absent cooperation from the governments of Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, and weak leadership from the UN Secretary General as some of the key impediments to progress thus far.
Because the LRA is committing attacks in an area that spans several countries, leadership from the UN remains crucial to a coordinated and effective response to the crisis. The UN Security Council will meet to discuss the LRA and the progress made so far in implementing the UN strategy on December 18, providing a key opportunity for the US representative on the Council to press for improvements.
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.
On September 28th, 2012, religious leaders from Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan met as part of the Regional Interfaith Network of Religious Leaders for Peace (Le Réseau Régional et Interconfessionnel des Leaders Religieux pour la Paix, RRILRP) and released a statement expressing their concerns and recommendations for seeing an end to the LRA conflict. They call for increased protection of civilians and humanitarian assistance, especially in the most isolated areas of CAR. We’ve included a translation of their recommendations below and attached their full statement here (translation included).
This past July, we were honored to bring Fr. Benoit Kinalegu and Sr. Angelique Namaika from Dungu, DRC to meetings wit policymakers all around the world. Our own work benefits from the dedication of many religious leaders in LRA-affected areas, who often help facilitate our research in LRA-affected areas and provide advice that is incorporated into our advocacy work.
1. To the African Union:
2. To the International Community:
3. To the Governments of affected countries:
4. To the elected Leaders:
5. To local communities:
6. To the media:
*Photo courtesy of gurtong.net. Acholi religious leaders addressing the media.
On October 7th, our friends at Invisible Children announced their intent to bring thousands of activists to Washington, DC on November 17th for MOVE:DC, the next chapter in the KONY 2012 campaign where representatives from LRA-affected governments will join leaders from the US and others to join in a conversation about what is needed to see an end to LRA atrocities. In the meantime, we will ask them to commit to follow through.
We’ll be working behind the scenes to make MOVE:DC a success, and we encourage everyone to join. But a crucial piece of the follow through that’s still needed is leadership from Congress. That’s why – the day before MOVE:DC – we are helping organize LOBBY:DC, and you should join.
This less-advertised initiative will allow participants to meet directly with their elected leaders in Congress to advocate on behalf of those most affected by LRA violence, and we expect big results. Past lobbying efforts have heralded some of our most important achievements, including passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act and millions in new funds to help keep people safer from LRA attacks.
The KONY 2012 campaign has resulted in some big commitments from world leaders. So far, both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have expressed their support, and with promises from the African Union, United Nations, and European Union to see this conflict to an end, there is reason for hope. These commitments could lead to urgent measures to help arrest Joseph Kony and improve protection of vulnerable civilians.
By engaging our leaders in person, we can help make sure they now follow through. See you in a few weeks in DC.
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.
Yesterday, the US announced the release of up to fifteen million dollars to help protect communities being targeted by LRA attacks in southeast Central African Republic (CAR). Given the inability of the CAR government to provide meaningful protection on its own, the program is pursuing innovative approaches to help communities protect themselves in the remote area.
A press release on the project notes that “Insecurity caused by the LRA affects communities that are already suffering from acute poverty and underdevelopment. Communities in southeast CAR are particularly vulnerable to attacks by the LRA because of the limited international humanitarian presence in the area, minimal government influence, and physical isolation due to poor communications systems, roads, and other infrastructure…
“Communities will develop and implement security plans that reduce their vulnerability to violence. Improved communications technology and information sharing among communities—as well as with local, national, and international organizations—will reduce their isolation and exposure to threats associated with the presence of the LRA and other armed groups.”
The program was developed after Resolve activists and partner groups worked with leaders in Congress — most notably Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as well as Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Kay Granger (R-TX) — to secure allocations for it in the 2012 budget. Similar programs in LRA-affected areas of Democratic Republic of Congo, which utilize high frequency radio and mobile phone networks, have helped inform and prepare communities for the threat of attack by the LRA. The full description can be accessed here.
The LRA is reported to have first moved into southeast CAR in February of 2007, drawn by the remoteness of the area and absence of any CAR government forces.
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.