The author of this BBC article interviews people from South Sudan and DR Congo who are living in refugee camps because of LRA violence. This perspective has been largely missing from the global conversation about stopping Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The first-hand accounts make it clearer than ever that LRA violence must be stopped as quickly as possible. But, as elsewhere, there is disagreement on how best to go about it. Some say that global involvement and military intervention are the only ways to stop the violence. Others strongly discourage military action in favor of dialogue. And still others say that it doesn’t matter how the violence is stopped, it just has to stop.
Excerpts from James Copnall’s article for BBC:
With a controversial US film putting the spotlight on Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, the BBC’s James Copnall reports on those in South Sudan and Uganda who believe he must be captured or killed at all costs.
In a refugee camp in the shade of giant mango trees, a Congolese man called Jean-Roger is calling for US soldiers to capture the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony.
“We need a military intervention. [President Barack] Obama must make an effort to finish with Kony,” he says in a firm voice.
“The LRA has killed a lot of people, and raped a lot of women, and they kidnap children to train them to become like them. They must be stopped.”
The recent Kony 2012 film, which has been viewed millions of times, has attracted criticism for simplifying the problem of the LRA.
But Jean-Roger and other victims believe the only thing that matters is to stop the rebel movement.
There are more than 5,000 refugees in the Makpandu camp in South Sudan, the majority from the Democratic Republic of Congo, others from the Central African Republic.
Those are the two countries where the LRA now operates, though its fighters – many of whom are children – sometimes launch raids into South Sudan too.
Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has campaigned against the LRA for many years.
He supports the film as a way of raising awareness. But he believes the military option is not the right one.
“When we talk about a military intervention, people who think they are powerful think it is the only way to solve a problem.
“They think that by the gun you can solve the problem, but instead you aggravate it.
“To me military intervention is not a solution. I would encourage dialogue.”
In a camp for South Sudanese displaced by LRA attacks near the town of Nzara, that view would not be supported by everyone.
“The LRA don’t want to see you as a human being,’ says Charles. “If they see a human, they kill him with a machete or shoot him with a gun. That is why we fear them.”
Some of the displaced people here have begun to return home. But many remain.
“If Kony is arrested, that can solve the problem,” says David, hurrying through his words in his anxiety to stress the point.
“The abduction of the children and the killing of people make us afraid, that is why most of the people don’t want to go back to our homes.”
These people have not seen the Kony 2012 film. But they are vociferous in their demand for Joseph Kony to be stopped by any means necessary.
(Photo Credit: BBC News)