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Congress Must Fund Strategy to End Africa’s Most Brutal War: Rights Groups

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Congress Must Fund Strategy to End Africa’s Most Brutal War: Rights Groups

Posted by Enough Team on March 28, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Amber Palmer, Resolve Director of Communications, 202-213-3388, amber@theresolve.org

Jonathan Hutson, Enough Project Director of Communications, 202-386-1618, jhutson@enoughproject.org

Ben Keesey, Invisible Children CEO, 310-210-7344, ben@invisiblechildren.com

Ann Brown, GI-Net/SDC, Communications Consultant, 301-633-4193, abrown@savedarfur.org

 

WASHINGTON – Congress must set aside funds in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill in order to sufficiently implement President Obama’s strategy for eliminating the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group of human rights organizations said.

President Obama released a strategy in November to guide U.S. support for stopping the violence perpetrated by the LRA, a rebel group that terrorizes remote communities in central Africa, and helping communities affected by the conflict rebuild. This strategy was mandated by the bipartisan LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, the most widely-supported piece of Africa-specific legislation in recent U.S. history.

“Congress took a significant first step in eliminating the scourge of the LRA when it passed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act last year. But the legislation is meaningless without a fiscal commitment to see the strategy through to implementation,” said the groups including the Enough Project, Resolve, Invisible Children, and Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition.

The funds would be used to achieve the strategy’s four objectives which include increased protection of civilians; apprehension or removal from the battlefield of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders; promotion of defection, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters; and increased humanitarian access and continued relief to affected communities.

The groups also applauded the release today of a bipartisan letter by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and John Boozman (R-AR) urging the Senate appropriations committee to dedicate the necessary resources to ensure that the strategy becomes a reality and serves the purpose Congress intended. “As you prepare the FY2012 Appropriations bill, we urge you to ensure the United States Government has sufficient resources to help end the atrocities committed by the LRA, protect innocent civilians, and stabilize a region of Africa that is critical to U.S. national security interests,” the Senators wrote in their letter.

Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA3) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE1) released a similar letter to the House appropriations committee today, writing, “Resources invested in ending this conflict now will not only save innocent lives, but also reduce the need for expensive emergency humanitarian aid and promote stability in one of Africa’s most volatile regions.”

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Background on the Lord’s Resistance Army:

The Lord’s Resistance Army was formed more than two decades ago by Joseph Kony. The LRA was originally based in northern Uganda, where thousands of civilians were killed and nearly two million displaced during the conflict between the rebels and the Ugandan government. The rebel group expanded its operations into Sudan in the 1990s, where it received support from the Sudanese government. In 2005 five senior LRA commanders, including Kony, were indicted by International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Though the rebel group ended attacks in northern Uganda in 2006, it moved its bases to northeastern DRC and has since committed acts of violence against civilians in remote regions of DRC, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Kony and his top commanders sustain their ranks by abducting civilians, including children, to use as soldiers and sexual slaves.

The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was introduced into U.S. Congress by a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives on May 19, 2009. It passed the Senate on March 10, 2010, and the House of Representatives on May 12, 2010. President Obama signed the legislation into law on May 24.

Section 4 of the law required President Obama to develop “a strategy to guide future United States support across the region for viable multilateral efforts to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army” and report that strategy to Congress within 180 days of the legislation being enacted. President Obama released his strategy on November 24, 2010.