The United Nations and African Union (AU) will seek increased funding early next year for a strategy against rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa,
This plan was on Tuesday 18th December tabled before the UN Security Council by a senior United Nations official.
“The most urgent step revolves around the need to promptly finalize the LRA programmatic document and mobilize sufficient resources for its full implementation,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa, told the a Council meeting on the region, which covered LRA-affected areas.
“Once the programmatic document is finalized, my office, in partnership with the office of the African Union Special Envoy on the LRA, plans to organize a resource mobilization forum early next year with the aim of raising funds for the most critical areas of the strategy,” Mr. Moussa added.
UNOCA is the world body’s regional office charged – along with the African Union (AU) envoy on the issue, Francisco Madeira – with helping coordinate a regional strategy to deal with the armed group, amongst its other tasks.
The LRA was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces in the north of the country, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels.
They then exported their activities to Uganda’s neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
The rebel group is notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers, while girls are often forced into sexual slavery.
Although current estimates suggest that the LRA comprises less than 500 combatants operating under the leadership of Joseph Kony, its capacity to attack and terrorise and harm local communities remains, according to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
The strategy was endorsed by the UN Security Council in June. It focuses on five key strategic objectives to address the LRA threat.
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.
In relation to the first objective, in September the United Nations welcomed the handover of 2,500 soldiers – 2,000 from the Uganda People’s Defence Force and 500 from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – to the AU regional task force established to hunt down LRA members.
In his remarks to the Council meeting today, Mr. Moussa stated that a critical element for the advent of sustainable peace and security in Central Africa is sub-regional integration. He noted that UNOCA has continued to work closely with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (known by the French acronym CEMAC) and other sub-regional bodies, as well as the high-level political authorities of the sub-region in the pursuit of that goal.
The Special Representative said that while the overall peace and security situation in the region remains stable and significant progress has been registered in curbing the activities of “armed groups and negative forces,” Central Africa continues to experience some challenges in this area.
“Violence perpetrated by armed groups, including in eastern [DR] Congo and countries affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army, and a number of other developments with regional and cross-border consequences greatly challenge our efforts to promote sustainable peace and stability in the sub-region,” he said, noting, however, that, as mentioned in the Secretary-General’s latest report on the topic, there is also good news, particularly on the economic front with countries continuing to register significant growth rates.