Troops Hunting LRA Rebels Need More Support: Enough Project Report

May 24, 2012

Contact: Matt Brown, mbrown@enoughproject.org202-468-2925

WASHINGTON – U.S. military advisors sent to East and Central Africa to help end the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict have had some success, but need more support in order for the mission to accomplish its goals of helping to apprehend LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top deputies and disband the group, according to a new Enough Project report.

The report, “Mission in the Balance: Challenges for U.S. Advisers in Helping to End the LRA,” said that more capable forces are needed in LRA affected areas, better transport including helicopters is required, and enhanced intelligence gathering is necessary to defeat the brutal rebel movement. The report is based on field research conducted in the Central African Republic in March-April 2012 and includes an informative video.

"The mission of the U.S. troops will fail in its objective of capturing Kony and ending the LRA unless some serious enhancements are added to the overall effort," said John Prendergast, Enough Project co-founder. "Gaining access to the areas where Kony might be, increasing the number of African special forces focusing on Kony's capture, adding new African forces to protect civilians, and providing transport helicopters are all necessary prerequisites for success. What a waste of taxpayers' money it will have been to send U.S. forces to the region and then not have ensured that sufficient elements are in place for their mission to succeed."

Started in Uganda more than 25 years ago, the LRA, led by wanted war criminal Joseph Kony, preys on villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Recent reports suggest the LRA may be in or near the Darfur region of Sudan, and could migrate to Chad. Last week, Uganda captured senior LRA commander Caesar Achellam in CAR.

“The resent capture of high ranking LRA commander Caesar Acellam is a major step in the quest to end the LRA and is likely to provide vital intelligence about the rebel group. The capture creates a unique window of opportunity that could see the final end of LRA provided that military and non-military pressure is increased considerably,” said Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA field researcher and author of the report. “The time for debate is over. Policy makers across the region and internationally must take the necessary steps to end the continued suffering of civilians who pay the ultimate price for the horrible atrocities committed by the LRA.”

Ugandan troops pursuing the LRA must be granted access to all areas of CAR, South Sudan and Congo, and the report urges President Obama to press Congolese President Kabila to allow access for troops in pursuit of the LRA. U.S. advisors should also be allowed to work further from their bases to enable them to provide more effective training to regional armies, the report said.

“The disturbing fact is that the LRA continues to operate freely in the border areas of Congo, South Sudan and CAR,” said Agger. “Several commentators and reports have indicated that LRA is in ‘survival mode.’ However, we have found that the LRA is able to move freely in the border region, has increased its area of operation and continues to be responsible for looting, attacks and abductions in Central Africa.”

The report calls for an increase in civilian protection capacity, enhanced efforts to encourage the defections of LRA fighters, and improved roads and infrastructure in the region as ways to end the LRA and the human suffering the group has caused.

Read the full report: “Mission in the Balance: Challenges for U.S. Advisers in Helping to End the LRA.”

Watch the video: "Hunting Kony: On the Ground in Central Africa."

View a slideshow of images from Central Africa. Photos are available for media use. Please credit Kasper Agger/Enough Project.


Mission in the Balance: Challenges for U.S. Advisors in Helping to End the LRA

The U.S. military advisors deployed against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in central and east Africa are starting to make progress in tracking the group, but serious challenges remain to make the mission a success. To assess both the progress and challenges of ongoing efforts to end the LRA, Enough Project LRA researcher Kasper Agger travelled to the Central African Republic and reports on the findings from his trip, along with an accompanying video and photo slideshow.

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At The Hague: Great Lakes Contact Group Discusses Justice and Accountability

May 23, 2012


Contact: Matt Brown, mbrown@enoughproject.org, 202-468-2925

WASHINGTON – The International Contact Group on the Great Lakes of Africa meeting in The Hague is an opportunity to address political, diplomatic, security and development issues in Congo, the Enough Project said in a new report.

The body, consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the European Union, and the United Nations, will likely focus the meeting on security reform and civilian protection in eastern Congo, the continued irregularities in the Congolese political process, continued reform in the conflict minerals sector, and armed groups and regional dynamics.

The Enough Project recommends that the group pressure the Congolese government to arrest rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda and implement security sector reform. The group should also call for the disbanding of the Congolese National Election Commission and enact accountability measures for electoral fraud.

“With the recent rebellion of ICC-indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda in eastern Congo, and renewed questions about the involvement of Rwanda in de-stabilizing Congolese security for power and profit, The Hague seems like a fitting place for the International Contact Group to meet,” said Aaron Hall Enough Project associate director of research. “Prosperity starts with peace, and coordinated efforts to ensure that Congo is able to deliver justice to war criminals like Ntaganda and his men should be a paramount objective for the group, not only as a matter of setting global precedent, but for all those Congolese who are currently suffering and have suffered in the past from unnecessary conflict in the region.”

On the conflict mineral issue, the group should work with the U.S. Government to use the burgeoning Public Private Alliance to begin a multilateral negotiation process on an internationally agreed upon certification scheme.

"The focus on Ntaganda has also left a security vacuum in eastern Congo, which has led to a resurgence of the deadly FDLR militia and the recent killings of over 200 civilians," said Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev. "The US and European Special Envoys should proactively engage the region on a plan to deal with the FDLR's increased strength, including a more robust defection strategy." 

The Enough Project also urged the group to weigh in on the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict. The group should engage vigorously with governments in and outside the Great Lakes region and the A.U. to secure more capable troops to apprehend the LRA’s senior leadership and protect civilians, while deploying a sufficient number of soldiers to cover the vast area affected by the LRA.

At The Hague: Great Lakes Contact Group Discusses Justice and Accountability

This week, the International Contact Group on the Great Lakes Region will meet in The Hague, Netherlands. The upcoming meeting will likely focus on four urgent subject areas: security reform and civilian protection in eastern Congo, continued irregularities in the Congolese political process and the upcoming provincial elections, continued reform in the conflict minerals sector, and armed groups and regional dynamics including the FDLR and LRA. As a whole, these areas represent core impediments to peace, stability, and development in the Great Lakes. The Enough Project has developed recommendations to the group on specific elements of each subject area where this body can act to create real progress to mitigate conflict and fill critical gaps in cross-border coordination and communication.

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UPDATE: Tracking Compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2046 on Sudan and South Sudan

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