FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WASHINGTON – The Senate Armed Services Committee set aside $35 million to fund a strategy for eliminating the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Central Africa’s most brutal militia, and rebuilding communities affected by their campaign of violence.
Rights groups the Enough Project and Resolve praised the committee, especially Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who introduced the amendment to fund the LRA strategy. The Obama Administration must now act to implement the strategy to rid Africa of the destructive LRA scourge, the rights groups said.
“The Armed Services Committee has sent a strong message that ending the LRA’s terror campaign should be a priority of the U.S. government,” said David Sullivan, Director of Research at the Enough Project. “The Obama Administration must use this money to put the strategy into action as part of a coordinated regional effort to stop the LRA and end the humanitarian crisis in its wake.”
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 moves to the full Senate before being merged with a similar House bill. The rights groups called on the House to adopt the LRA strategy funding amendment in conference.
The money would pay for military and intelligence support for the government of Uganda and any other government that is participating in operations to eliminate the threat posed by the LRA.
“President Obama should send advisers to the region to help these governments protect communities being targeted by the LRA and ensure this money is used effectively,” Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of Resolve. “Once this funding is in place, the administration will have no excuse but to act.”
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.