This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill and was written by Enough Project Associate Director of Policy for Congo, LRA, and the Great Lakes Region Sasha Lezhnev and Founding Director John Prendergast.
As President Obama departs for East Africa, one of his administration’s major successes has largely been forgotten: helping dramatically reduce mass atrocities in central Africa by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Over the past 28 years, the LRA has been an epic human rights abuser, committing crimes almost exclusively against civilians, from cutting off girls’ lips to forcing children to hack their friends to death with machetes. Kony’s rebel group abducted more than 66,000 people, including 30,000 child soldiers, and is responsible for over 100,000 deaths.
Bolstered by a supportive Congress, the Obama administration has helped erode the LRA’s core strength and reduced human suffering. Following the passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act in 2009, the most co-sponsored stand-alone Africa bill ever passed in Congress, the president deployed more than 100 U.S. special operations forces military advisers to the African Union countermission in October 2011. This deployment, together with nonmilitary steps including community protection programs, has helped lead to a 90 percent decrease in LRA killings.