Obama commits US to helping hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony
President Obama signed a new law to help four African nations hunt down LRA leader Joseph Kony, who's followers have brutalized thousands over the past 23 years. Kony has been indicted for war crimes by an international court.
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Every month at Dungu hospital here, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a steady stream of badly injured LRA victims arrive.Skip to next paragraph
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Since the end of last year these have included mutilated men, women and children; their lips, ears and noses sliced off as a warning to the local communities, says Jean Claude Amundala, a doctor at the hospital.
“These things sound unimaginable but they are a reality not science fiction. We have seen them,” says Dr. Amundala.
While Monuc, the UN’s billion-dollar-a-year peacekeeping operation in Congo, has boosted the number of its troops in the region to more than 1,000, LRA attacks continue to happen within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the main base.
Still hunting the LRA
The Congolese Army, nominally charged with protecting civilians, has around 6,000 soldiers in the area but since elite troops were rotated out last year accusations of rapes and robberies by the army have rocketed and clashes between the military and LRA gone down. Elsewhere the Ugandan Army, while having officially ended operations in Congo and moved to Central African Republic, is still hunting the LRA down in the forests and vast expanses of Congo.
As the region's military try to succeed where others have repeatedly failed in capturing or killing Kony, one ray of hope is the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act signed Monday by Obama. Passed by Congress earlier this month, the law would oblige the US to come up with a multi-faceted plan to stop the LRA threat. Africom, the US military's African command, has provided logistical support and intelligence to the Ugandan Army effort to hunt down the LRA.
While proponents argue that the law would place more emphasis on civilian protection and could see a more surgical attempt to take out Kony, skeptics claim it could help prolong current military operations and the suffering of the people on the ground.
But one thing almost everyone agrees on is that it’s time for a new strategy.
“Continuing with only this military strategy as it is will lead to nothing,” says Abbot Benoit Kinalengu, the head of a local church-based organisation for justice and peace back in Dungu. “Violence has and will only lead to violence.”
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[Editor's note: "Lightning Thunder," a military operation lead by Ugandan forces, to capture Joseph Kony occurred in Dec. 2008. The original article had the wrong date]