To the thousands who moved,
In the days following the event on November 17, the questions I’ve been getting most often are, “How did it go?” and “Did it make a difference?”
I always answer, “Incredible” and “absolutely.”
A core purpose of this event was to create a really strong, lasting impression on world leaders. We wanted the event to be an unforgettable experience, leaving them no choice but to significantly increase their personal efforts to help stop the LRA. We wanted them to feel the energy, experience the passion, and see first-hand the thousands of people who want a peaceful end to LRA violence.
And it happened. Because you came to Washington, DC, so did they. Before MOVE:DC, this group of regional and international leaders had never before met to discuss the issue of LRA violence, and it was an experience they will never forget. When Assistant Secretary Carson took the stage, you gave him a 15-second standing ovation…he has never experienced that before. One week after the event, Secretary Carson traveled through the region and met with leaders in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I guarantee that your presence in DC had an impact on those conversations.
The impact of the event was far more than psychological, though. Numerous concrete steps were taken in the days and weeks surrounding the event. For example, when the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Central African Republic agreed to attend the Global Summit, the government deployed a team to southeast CAR to do a full security and humanitarian assessment on the LRA. From this mission, they learned critical new information about the location and activity of LRA groups near the Sudan border and shared this information with the other delegates at the Global Summit.
During the four days surrounding MOVE:DC, there were pre-event meetings with Secretary Carson; multiple meetings with all Global Summit delegates, many at the U.S. State Department; a White House roundtable meeting with the National Security Council Director for Africa; and an NGO forum hosted by the European Union.
In all of these meetings, one thing was crystal clear – in the areas of central Africa where there is international cooperation between the regional governments, international community, and civil society, the effort to stop LRA violence is working. In CAR, where there is great cooperation, 19 long-term LRA fighters defected—just in the month leading up to MOVE:DC. And in the last six months, there have been more defections than in the previous three years combined.
However, in the areas where there isn’t cooperation, the LRA is winning.
There remain three critical gaps in the mission to permanently stop the violence of the LRA:
Recent evidence suggests that the government of Sudan is allowing Kony and a large LRA group to hide in the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave of South Darfur. It is critical that the regional governments and the international community place strong pressure on the government of Sudan to prevent the LRA from finding safe haven in its territory.
2. Resource Commitment.
Operations in the LRA-affected area, including humanitarian, military, or otherwise, are extremely expensive. Even the most basic humanitarian services take a lot of time and money to deliver because of the remote and difficult terrain. Resources from all engaged parties need to be sustained or increased.
3. Regional and International Cooperation.
The LRA operates in four countries. In order to see an end to LRA violence, it is essential to invest time and energy in coordinating efforts to protect people from LRA attacks and prevent the LRA from crossing borders with ease.
There is not a simple answer to these complex challenges, but these gaps were discussed at length, and steps were taken to start finding solutions. This momentum will continue in the weeks and months to come because you showed up in DC by the thousands with a positive energy. Every single delegate expressed their eagerness to return home to share their experience of MOVE:DC with high-ranking officials in their government or institution, which will allow them to do more in their efforts to stop the LRA.
We will continue to follow up and follow through on the momentum we created at MOVE:DC and we ask you to do the same.
My sincerest thanks,