Taking Action against Lord’s Resistance Army, Invisible Children, Security Council

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kony_head_of_lraThe Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord’s Resistance Movement, is a Christian fundamentalist, militant new religious movement cult operating in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. It has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, child-sex slavery and forcing children to participate in hostilities.

Initially it was an outgrowth and continuation of the larger armed resistance movement waged by some of the Acholi people against a central Ugandan government which they felt marginalized them at the expense of southern Ugandan ethnic groups. Ideologically, the group is a syncretic mix of African mysticism, Acholi nationalism, Christian fundamentalism, and Islam. It claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and local Acholi tradition.

The group is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium. Since 1987, Kony is believed to have recruited between 60,000 and 100,000 child soldiers and displaced around 2 million people throughout central Africa. The LRA is one of the foreign organizations designated as terrorist by the United States, and its leadership is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The group’s initial names were the Uganda People’s Democratic Christian Army and the United Holy Salvation Army, later known as the Lord’s Resistance Movement or Army (LRM/A or LRA/M) and eventually the LRA since 1992. For simplicity’s sake, this article refers to all of these various manifestations as the “Lord’s Resistance Army”.

INVISIBLE CHILDREN

 The Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remains among the most persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children, says a new United Nations report.

uganda-war-survivor-story-top Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s first report to the Security Council on the situation of children affected by the LRA documents violations committed against children, and measures taken to address the LRA threat between July 2009 and February 2012.

Over the reporting period, at least 591 children, including 268 girls, were abducted and recruited by the LRA, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but also in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan.

The LRA is currently believed to be made up of between 200 and 500 fighters. Formed in the 1980s in Uganda, the LRA mainly directed its attacks against Ugandan civilians and security forces for over 15 years. By 2004, it had largely been driven of the area through a sustained military effort. It then exported its activities to Uganda’s neighbouring countries, with practices that include the recruitment of children, rapes, killing and maiming, and sexual slavery.

“The LRA continues to cast a long shadow across central Africa, causing enormous suffering for children,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, at a press conference at UN Headquarters today.

UgandaWarCrimesThe Special Representative’s office monitors six grave violations against children: recruitment and use of child soldiers; killing and maiming; sexual violence; denial of humanitarian access; abduction; and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Ms. Coomaraswamy said that due to protection activities and the military operations carried out in the affected areas, the LRA is weakened, but it continues to be able to make random attacks.

In the DRC, a trend appeared in 2010, and was more apparent in 2011, of children being abducted for very short periods to carry loot before they managed to escape or were left behind, according to a news release on the report that added that this suggests a change in the modus operandi of the LRA.

All girls mentioned in the report were forcibly married to combatants, and those who escaped with their babies born of rape were stigmatized by their communities.

The Special Representative noted that the number of children killed and maimed appears to have declined since 2008, perhaps due to increased protection efforts by UN peacekeepers, the massive displacement of civilians fleeing the LRA threat, and the presence of security forces in the LRA’s area of operations.

There was also some “relative good news” in that the LRA no longer attack schools and hospitals, she said, adding that despite this, the attacks keep thousands from attending schools because of displacement.

In his report, Mr. Ban lauds efforts by the Uganda People’s Defence Force and the African Union to address the threat posed by the LRA. He recommends that all military efforts to address the LRA ensure that the protection of civilians is a central aspect of operations, including through the development of standard operating procedures for the handling of children separated from the LRA.

While noting the need to encourage defections from the LRA as a strategy to weaken the armed group, Mr. Ban indicated that there must be no impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including grave violations against children – a point also stressed by his Special Representative.

In March, the United Nations and the African Union (AU) launched the UN-supported and AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA (RCI-LRA) and its military component, the RTF, with the aim of bringing an end to the LRA’s activities. The RTF is comprised of 5,000 soldiers drawn form the four countries affected by the LRA – Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan.

Women from grassroots organizations across three countries affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) participated in a Conciliation Resources visit to formerly LRA-affected parts of northern Uganda. The women — from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic — visited a rehabilitation centre for former abductees and the home village of the rebel leader, Joseph Kony.

For more information about our work with LRA-affected communities VISIT HERE.

 

 

December 2012,  The Security Council has strongly condemned the ongoing attacks and atrocities carried out by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and their continued violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of human rights.

In a presidential statement Wednesday, the Council stressed that these actions pose a significant threat to the civilian population, in particular women and children, and have serious humanitarian and human rights consequences, including the displacement of 443,000 people across LRA-affected areas.

The Council condemned the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, and abductions.

The Council demanded an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA, particularly those on civilians, urged LRA leaders to release all those abducted, and insisted that all LRA elements put an end to such practices, and disarm and demobilize.

United_Nations_Security_CouncilThe Security Council also reiterated its support for the United Nations Regional Strategy to Address the Threat and impact of the Activities of the LRA and urged swift implementation of the five strategic areas of intervention identified in the strategy.

The Council urged the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the United Nations political and peacekeeping missions in the region and other relevant United Nations presences to coordinate their efforts in support of the implementation of the strategy. LISTEN HERE

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