Numerous organizations are teaming up to put an end to the 23 year reign of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in central Africa and to help their victims heal.
The humanitarian organization Enough recently released their latest strategy paper, “Finishing the Fight Against the LRA,” in which they call the United States to support a new Ugandan military operation. In the paper, they ask the U.S. to play a bigger role in the planning, intelligence and coordination of the operation.
Partnering up with Enough in the fight against the LRA is the organization Invisible Children. Invisible Children recently finished their campaign to get the media’s attention, “The Rescue.” With names like Oprah showing support for the current situation with the LRA, “The Rescue” was considered a success.
However, Invisible Children’s fight to stop the LRA did not end with “The Rescue.” They will be in Washington, D.C., on June 22-23 for “How It Ends: Rally and Lobby Day 2009,” to make ending this war a top priority for the U.S. government.
The war started in 1986 when the rebel group the LRA, led by Joseph Kony, started abducting Ugandan children as young as seven and training them to kill at their base in southern Sudan. According to the IRIN, a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, during the past 23 years over 25,000 children have been abducted by the LRA and used as child soldiers or sex slaves.
“Some of the worst atrocities being committed against children are taking place in Uganda, and the international community is nowhere to be seen,” Baker Ochola, a retired bishop in Uganda, told IRIN.
Along with abducting children, the LRA has been terrorizing villages in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. At one point an estimated 1.8 million Ugandan civilians were displaced from their homes in government camps for protection against the LRA. Problems such as disease and starvation were rampant in the crowded camps.
Just this last December, the LRA was responsible for murdering over 600 innocent Congolese people and abducting more than 160 Congolese children. More recently, the Sudan Tribune reported that the LRA is suspected in the murder of three men in separate incidents near Yambio in southern Sudan.
This is a map of the area the LRA has victimized: View Lord’s Resistance Army in a larger map.
Despite numerous peace talks and agreements, Joseph Kony and the LRA are not stopping their rebellion against the government and people of central Africa.
In Enough’s paper to finish the war, they argue that the only way to end the LRA is to take out their key leaders, such as Joseph Kony. The paper states, “Now is the time to redouble and reinvigorate international and regional efforts to finally bring an end to the LRA’s devastating reign of death and destruction.”
Enough also believes that protection for civilians should be a big part of making this new operation a success.
The Ugandan government currently is working on compensating the victims of the war with the LRA. the Chairperson of the Amnesty Commission, Justice Peter Onega stated that total peace will not come until the victims are compensated.
According to the UGPulse, over 4,000 former rebels received resettlement packages after signing amnesty certificates denouncing their rebellion. The goal of the resettlement packages is to help the returnees start a new life in their own communities.
Justice Onega also believes it is very important to compensate the victims of the rebellion for their emotional or physical losses, so that they can feel a sense of justice.
Besides the Ugandan government aiding the victims, there are other organizations stepping in to help former child soldiers and their families. International charity Jubilee Action has announced the opening of a new center for child soldiers in northern Uganda.
Jubliee Action is planning on building their rehabilitation center in the Pader district of northern Uganda. According to the charity, 49 per cent of the people in the Pader district were abducted by the LRA and 85 per cent have family members that were killed from LRA violence.
The youth center will provide counseling to abducted children and workshops to help integrate them back into the community. According to Christian Today, it will provide education to help the children catch up from all the years of school they missed.
The Jubilee Action website said, “These children face serious challenges living with the daily trauma of what they have been through.” Because of the LRA and their horrible acts of violence thousands of children remain abducted and thousands more are left to live with the memories of terror.