30 May 2013

Central Africa: U.S. Offers Reward for Leaders of Lord's Resistance Army

Washington — The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer or conviction of three leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has been committing atrocities in central Africa and the Great Lakes region of the continent.

Speaking to the United Nations Security Council May 29, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice cited the reward under the War Crimes Rewards Program and identified the three LRA leaders as Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.

"The LRA has killed, maimed, and displaced thousands. It has abducted children and forced them to commit unspeakable horrors. It has destroyed families and communities. Its acts are unconscionable and must be stopped once and for all," Rice said.

"Our goal of permanently ending the LRA threat is within reach, but it will require sustained regional leadership and international support," she added.

Rice said the LRA continues to wreak havoc in a number of countries, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the LRA carried out 54 attacks between January and March. She urged the DRC military, the forces of the African Union's regional task force -- Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) -- and the U.N. Stabilization Mission for the DRC to strengthen coordination to combat the LRA.

Those groups, Rice said, need to expand their patrols and increase information sharing to crush the LRA, which began operating in Uganda in 1986. She urged the groups to develop a common picture of how the LRA operates and investigate its logistical networks and possible illicit sources of funding.

Rice said the crisis in the CAR could reverse the progress in the fight against the LRA. She called for the African Union's regional task force against the LRA to resume operations in the CAR as soon as possible so that LRA members do not have a chance to regroup.

Rice said that the CAR bears the primary responsibility for protecting civilians and must do much more in this regard, especially in protecting women and children.

Rice also said that the U.S. government is concerned about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat to the security of the region. She expressed support for the work of the U.N. Office of Central Africa to build capacity of governments to combat piracy.

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