100 US Congress Members Sign Anti-Kony Letter to Obama

August 5, 2013 11:28 am0 comments by:

Kampala- Uganda-Ninety-five members of the U.S. Congress have signed their names to a bipartisan letter to President Obama, urging him to sustain U.S. efforts to help address the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa.

The number of signatories is expected to exceed 100 in the course of the day.Representatives Jim McGovern and Ed Royce, and Senators Jim Inhofe and Mary Landrieu sponsored the letter, which will be delivered to the President this week.
To help build Congressional support behind the letter, Invisible Children a non-governmental organization dedicated to bringing a permanent end to the LRA conflict and improve the quality of life of LRA affected communities, launched a grassroots advocacy campaign last week, urging American activists to contact their representatives and ask them to sign on to the letter to the President. Invisible Children activists aimed to secure 100 signatures from members of Congress.

More broadly, Invisible Children’s new Zero LRA campaign seeks toensure that U.S. efforts to assist in ending LRA violence are sustained “until zero indicted LRA commanders are roaming free and zero children are abducted from their homes.” U.S and Ugandan army UPDF efforts to address the LRA have yielded significant positive results on the ground.

Killings by the LRA have decreased by 67% in the past year and LRA defections have dramatically increased. Still, Invisible Children got information that some top officials in the Obama Administration and in the U.S. Congress have
recently been considering a reduction in U.S. efforts to address the LRA crisis, due to budget constraints and new challenges facing the U.S. advisor mission, namely the government takeover by Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Activists behind the zero LRA campaign argue that a reduction of the U.S support to regional counter-LRA efforts would have cascading negative effects on the ground – ultimately leaving communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic vulnerable to LRA reprisal attacks and giving Joseph Kony the opportunity to rebuild his fighting force through new abductions, as has happened in the past.

Earlier this year, more than a dozen local civil society leaders from LRA-affected communities in Central African Republic drafted individual handwritten letters and issued a joint statement, urging the U.S. and Ugandan governments not to scale back their counter-LRA efforts in the region.

Invisible Children hopes the zeroLRA campaign will help amplify the voices of local communities most vulnerable to LRA attacks, and remind the U.S. government that there continues to be strong support from the American public behind U.S. efforts to help end LRA violence once and for all.

This campaign happens in wake of renewed efforts by Invisible Children to lobby regional bodies and seek their intervention to end the LRA conflict.

Last week Invisible Children petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly in Arusha asking it to make a fresh study of the continued LRA atrocities in the region and send a fact finding mission to the LRA affected communities in northern Uganda, DRC and CAR to see how the victims are rebuilding their lives and bear witness to cruel atrocities being committed by the LRA, humanitarian interventions and the efforts to encourage LRA defections, among other requests.

BACKGROUND
In May 2009, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act.
The legislation reiterates the U.S. commitment to seek a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict in northern Uganda and other affected areas, including northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic. It also required President Obama to develop a comprehensive, multilateral strategy to address the LRA conflict.

In October 2011, as part of his comprehensive LRA strategy, President Obama authorized the deployment of 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces were to
be deployed in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These forces have been useful in providing information, advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces, particularly the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) on counter-LRA activities.

Every six months, President Obama convenes a team of high-level officials to review the U.S. mission to address the LRA and to decide if it should continue.

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