Central Africa: Security Council Endorses UN Regional Strategy to Combat LRA Threat

Photo: New Vision
Ugandan military officers survey the ammunition captured from the Lord's Resistance Army.

The Security Council today endorsed the regional strategy developed by the United Nations to tackle the threat posed by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), and called for the necessary support to ensure that it is carried out successfully.

The strategy, developed by the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), focuses on five key strategic objectives to address the threat from the LRA, which has been causing suffering to civilians in South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in addition to Uganda.

They include support for the full operationalization and implementation of the African Union regional cooperation initiative against the LRA; enhancing efforts to promote the protection of civilians; and expanding current disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration activities to cover all LRA-affected areas.

The other objectives are to promote a coordinated humanitarian and child protection response in these areas, and to support LRA-affected governments in the fields of peacebuilding, human rights, rule of law and development, to enable them to establish State authority across their territories.

"The Security Council welcomes the development of the United Nations Regional Strategy to Address the Threat and Impact of the Activities of the LRA and takes note of the five strategic areas of intervention identified in the strategy," the 15-member body said in a presidential statement read out during a meeting on the issue.

It also called on the international community to "provide assistance as possible to advance these strategic goals."

The LRA carried out the worst of its atrocities in northern Ugandan in the 1990s, but had, by 2004, largely been driven out of the area through a sustained military effort. However, remnants of the insurgent group continued to attack civilians in the four affected countries. Led by Joseph Kony, the group is notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers, while girls are forced into sexual slavery.

The Council strongly condemned the ongoing attacks carried out by the LRA and the continued violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses committed by the group, and demanded an immediate end to all attacks.

Abou Moussa, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of UNOCA, told the Council that in spite of the recent capture of one of its senior commanders and its "significantly diminished" capacity, the LRA remains extremely dangerous and retains the capacity to inflict considerable suffering on the population.

"The strategy must only represent the beginning of vigorous attention by the Council to address the LRA issues, in order to put an end to these atrocities once and for all," he said. "Its successful implementation will depend on the level of cooperation and engagement among the affected countries and resource mobilization to address funding gaps."

The AU Special Envoy on the LRA, Francisco Madeira, said that the major objectives of the AU-led regional initiative are the strengthening of the capacity of the affected countries to effectively respond to and neutralize the LRA threat, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected communities and creating an environment conducive for the stabilization and rehabilitation of the affected areas.

When fully operational, the initiative is expected to bolster efforts against the LRA, particularly through military operations so as to heighten pressure on the group, leading to more captures, surrenders, defections and its eventual elimination, he stated.

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