In today’s Huffington Post, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) draws attention to the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and its continuing campaign of terror in Uganda, Central African Republic, and most recently in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. For over 20 years LRA leader, Joseph Kony and his rebel army have forcibly abducted thousands of children for use as soldiers and sex slaves. And although the conflict waged by the LRA is Africa’s longest running war, U.S. policymakers and the international community have been startlingly unengaged. However, as Senator Feingold notes – and the very fact that he blogged about this tragedy today indicates – that the tide may be shifting:
Last month, nearly two thousand young people from across America came to Washington D.C to advocate for action to stop the LRA, a far cry from just a few years ago when the tragedy in Uganda was called the world’s worst neglected humanitarian crisis. For a long time, the international community paid little attention and the Ugandan government did even less to protect its citizens living in the northern part of the country. Thanks in part to these young people, those days of neglect are over.
On June 23 and 24, 2009, Enough and Resolve Uganda partnered with Invisible Children for the “How it Ends” Lobby Days. This event brought together young people from across the country to lobby their members of Congress to lead efforts to stop the LRA and rebuild the communities devastated by the rebels’ long reign of terror.
The participants encouraged their representatives to show their support by co- sponsoring the S. 1067, LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. This measure was co-authored by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced a version of this bill (HR 2478) in the House of Representatives. Feingold contends:
If passed, the measure would require the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to help protect civilians while seeking to eliminate the threat posed by the LRA. This legislation leaves it up to the discretion of the Administration to determine the specifics, but it seeks to ensure a multifaceted approach that includes all elements of U.S. policy – economic, political, intelligence and military – and coordinates our efforts across the four affected countries.
A comprehensive strategy backed by sustained support by our policy makers and advocates – like those who stormed Capitol Hill and made their voice heard – could bring an effective end to years of child abduction and enslavement, mass murders, and general terror that the people of Africa’s Great Lakes region have long suffered at the hands of the LRA.
For more information on the LRA and more on what you can do, please visit Enough’s special LRA page.