Saturday, May 25, 2013

LRA: DDR/RR to sensitize LRA combatants through “Helicopter-Messaging”


The Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration, and Resettlement (DD/RRR) division of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) initiated early this month a new sensitization strategy aimed at persuading the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in the Orientale Province, to surrender to MONUSCO voluntarily.

The concept of the new drive called “Helicopter-Messaging” consists of special sensitization messages carefully worded, recorded, and played using loud speakers on board a Helicopter that will hover over identified locations of LRA combatants. Leaflets and flyers produced in French, English, and Acholi, the languages known to be used by LRA combatants, are also distributed during this operation.

DDR/RR is conducting this scheme in collaboration with various partners, including Invisible Children, AFRICOM, and MONUSCO military contingents. This initiative, the first of its kind in the DR Congo, is expected to produce effective results.

To compliment these efforts, the DDR/RR division has already embarked on the training of stakeholders, and partners, including substantive sections of MONUSCO, to expose them to the understanding of DDR/RR activities, challenges and the way forward in sensitizing LRA combatants.

Recently, the DDR/RR team in Dungu, headed by its Team Leader, Anatol Clement Bannem, conducted a one-day training session in Faradje for 25 stakeholders, particularly senior military personnel of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), government authorities, civil society members, and the Moroccan contingent of MONUSCO, on their responsibilities in addressing rebels of the LRA, defectors, and escapees.

They were also trained on the Standard Operating Procedures of the DDR/RR concept for receiving ex-combatants, girls, women, and children, once they surrender. Faradje was the best place to start because it suffered the worst in 2008 when the LRA killed over 200 of its people on a Christmas day.

The Faradje territory administrator, Heritier Masikini, lauded the efforts of DDR/RR for speedily responding to the concerns of the population by providing more information on DDR/RR activities and deploying staff in the area to handle potential influx of LRA defectors. The deployment of DDR/RR staff in Faradje has brought a sigh of relief to local authorities, the army, and the population.
Sam Howard/ MONUSCO