Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LRA: Meeting with LRA victims, UN and African envoys pledge continued support

Congolese woman, displaced by LRA attacks,

A Congolese woman, displaced by LRA attacks, carries a bag of non-food items distributed by UNHCR in Dungu, DR of Congo. Photo: UNHCR/M.Hofer

UN - 17 April 2012 – Senior United Nations and African Union officials met last week with victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to reassure them of their mobilization to put an end to the atrocities perpetrated by the armed group.

“Our greatest wish is that you return home and that you continue to go about your normal activities. We will all continue to work to achieve this objective,” the UN Special Representative for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, told survivors gathered in Linakoyo, near a base of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

“We are aware of all your problems,” he added, “and we will increase awareness among different stakeholders to find a lasting solution for you.”

Formed in the 1980s in Uganda, the LRA mainly directed its attacks against Ugandan civilians and security forces for over 15 years. 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. Since the beginning of this year, more than 4,200 people have been displaced as a result of LRA activity in DRC’s Orientale Province, where Dungu is located.

According to a press release from the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Mr Moussa and the Special Envoy of the African Union for the LRA issue, Francisco Madeira, met with representatives of 168 displaced families in Dungu, who told them about their “unbearable living conditions,” including lack of drinking water and difficulties sending their children to school.

They also had a working meeting with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations in the region to examine how to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the AU forces that will soon be deployed in Dungu, and the Congolese and UN forces already on the ground.

Mr. Madeira formally introduced Uganda’s Colonel Dick Prit Olum, the Chief of the Regional Intervention Force authorized by the AU to track down the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, and his men.

“I encourage you to bring him all the necessary support for the success of his mission,” Mr. Madeira said. “He was appointed to contribute with all his experience and military expertise to neutralize all the criminals who threaten your life.”

After Dungu, the two officials went to Obo, in the southeast of the Central African Republic (CAR), where they will meet with the CAR and Ugandan soldiers who are currently participating in anti-LRA operations, with the support of a military unit from United States.

In late March, they visited the headquarters of the Regional Intervention Force, located in South Sudan. Established in November 2011 by the African Union Peace and Security Council, this Force is part of renewed efforts against the LRA.