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Letting the Window of Opportunity Slam Shut

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Letting the Window of Opportunity Slam Shut

Posted by Maggie Fick on April 10, 2009

Letting the Window of Opportunity Slam Shut

Via Resolve Uganda’s helpful Weekly Roundup, this news from Congo’s Orientale province, where the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, has recently been wreaking havoc upon civilian populations in the Haut-Uele and Bas-Uele districts, near the border with southern Sudan:

About 1,000 women marched quietly in the streets of Buta, over 300 km north of Kisangani, to protest against the violence perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Orientale Province and against the delays with which authorities have intervened to resolve the humanitarian issues and the growing insecurity in the region. (…) The march, which ended with a sit-in during which the women read a document asking the government to deploy armed forces in the region, was organized by various women’s groups…

A recent USAID fact sheet affirmed that the LRA remains a "significant destabilizing presence in Orientale Province" in the aftermath of Operation Lightning Thunder and notes that:

According to UNHCR, intensified LRA attacks since late February have resulted in new displacement, hindered assessment and registration activities, and impeded the delivery of emergency relief commodities…UNHCR reported that LRA attacks have resulted in the displacement of approximately 143,000 people since September 2008, including more than 43,000 internally displaced persons in Dungu area.

In a joint statement released by Enough and Resolve Uganda in January, we wrote that:

If the regional militaries and the international community do not alter their hazardous and costly approach at this critical juncture, ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’ will simply become the latest in a long list of failed attempts to end Joseph Kony’s 20-year reign of terror. More lives will have been lost, and the political will to decisively end this conflict will have been squandered once again. 

Today, the LRA continues its deadly assaults on civilians in northeastern Congo. Two weeks ago, the LRA abducted more than 200 people during an attack on Banda village in Haut Uele district.
As we noted in January, Operation Lightning Thunder opened a window of opportunity to finally end the devastating LRA conflict. However, as LRA attacks continue, that window is steadily closing. It will soon slam shut absent a renewed commitment by the regional governments who led the joint operation and by the international community (read: the United States) who supported this effort to protect civilians now.
Photo of LRA fighter