Our IC|Citizen team is excited to report that earlier this week, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, budget legislation (known as a “continuing resolution”) that includes a special allocation of $45 million to support efforts to locate and arrest top LRA leaders. More specifically, these funds would likely go towards new intelligence and surveillance equipment that the U.S. advisors in central Africa need to better identify the movements and locations of LRA groups and top commanders.
This week’s news is a huge encouragement to our Citizen team, which has been working with activists across the country for months, lobbying members of the House and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittees (who had the most influence over this decision), and specifically asking them for this kind of funding.
One of our youngest lobby meeting participants ever, 12-year-old Ciara Doherty, joined a lobby meeting with the office of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and whose leadership was necessary in order to secure the $45 million. Just days after that local lobby meeting, Senator Durbin gave a statement on the Senate floor about the need for continued U.S. commitment to end LRA violence. He also referenced his recent trip to Uganda, specifically highlighting a meeting he had with two Invisible Children employees in Gulu, David Ocitti and Oyella Lily, who shared powerful testimonies of how LRA violence has directly impacted their lives.
Securing this $45 million is a victory worth celebrating, not only because of the concrete impact it can have on efforts to end LRA violence, but also because it is further evidence that our collective voices – here in the U.S. and from LRA-affected communities – are keeping members of Congress engaged and committed to seeing LRA violence ended once and for all. All the more reason to make sure we keep speaking up.
(Photo credit: Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)