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Feingold on the LRA and AFRICOM

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Feingold on the LRA and AFRICOM

Posted by Meghna Raj on March 14, 2009

Feingold on the LRA and AFRICOM

This week, Senator Feingold (D-WI) delivered a floor statement on the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. His remarks shed light on a woefully underreported humanitarian crisis. The LRA, led by ruthless rebel leader, Joseph Kony, originated in Uganda more than 20 years ago. This small army has since spread its campaign of terror into northeastern Congo, Central African Republic, and southern Sudan. In what’s being called the Christmas Massacre, the LRA killed at least 620 civilian and abducted more than 160 children in northern DRC this past December.

Senator Feingold spoke specifically about the U.S.’s reaction to the LRA’s long reign of terror. AFRICOM is playing a supporting role in the joint Congolese-Ugandan operation to “hunt” the LRA in the forests of eastern Congo. Feingold said it’s important to be aware of “the potential [for AFRICOM] to eclipse our civilian agencies and thereby perpetuate perceptions on the continent of a militarized U.S. policy.” But he was quick to say that the effort to halt the LRA is “exactly the kind of thing in which AFRICOM should be engaged.“

Feingold was critical about what he said was a lack of due diligence prior to the current campaign to root out the LRA in Congo. In light of these shortcomings, he called for the U.S. to develop a more proactive interagency strategy toward the region to ensure that “we can better help the region’s leaders to get this mission right and protect their people” and “help shape an AFRICOM that works effectively for both Africa and America’s security interests.

Senator Feingold serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs and has long worked to help disarm and demobilize the LRA and bringing its reign of terror to an end. His statement can be found here.

Laura Heaton contributed to this post.