Late Sunday night, the Obama Administration announced its plans to deploy V-22 Osprey military aircraft to support efforts by the African Union (AU) to end the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and protect civilians in central Africa. The announcement serves as a significant and very encouraging indicator of the Administration’s commitment to help end LRA violence and bring top LRA commanders to justice.

With LRA violence continuing — and even increasing in certain areas of Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic — the additional support to counter-LRA efforts is a positive and welcomed step toward security and peace for communities vulnerable to LRA attacks. In particular, these aircraft, which will be based in Uganda, offer unique capabilities that will enable counter-LRA forces to pursue LRA groups in remote and previously unreachable areas of Central African Republic, where the LRA’s most brutal attacks have been concentrated in recent years. With hundreds of women and children currently being held captive by the LRA, 326,000 people displaced out of fear and thousands of people at risk of senseless violence every single day, this increase of US commitment is undoubtedly a positive step.

Joseph Kony is one of the most prolific child abductors in the world. He was the first person indicted by the International Criminal Court, and the global community must ensure that he faces justice. On behalf of the 3.7 million people who have called upon our leaders to take greater action to see an end to the violence of the LRA, we celebrate last night’s news.

It is important to note that this announcement also comes at a time when U.S.-Uganda relations have been complicated by the passage of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. In response to the passage of the Act — the latest in a series of measures that restrict civil and political rights in Uganda — the Obama Administration announced in February that it would be conducting “an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles, and reflect our values.” Alongside Sunday night’s announcement of the deployment of the Ospreys, the Administration also announced that “the United States has taken certain immediate steps to demonstrate our support for the LGBT community in Uganda, deter other countries from enacting similar laws, and reinforce our commitment to the promotion and defense of human rights for all people – including LGBT individuals – as a U.S. priority.”

Invisible Children’s mission is to bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. This mission is founded on the belief that all human beings have equal and inherent value and deserve equal protection under the law. Because of this, and in light of the ways in which the Anti-Homosexuality Act violates international human rights law, we support the Administration’s ongoing efforts to equally review all dimensions of the United States’ relationship with Uganda, including security assistance, in order to promote the universal protection of human rights in Uganda and throughout the region. The nation of Uganda is full of creative, thoughtful and incredibly hardworking people who continue to make remarkable contributions to the global community. We are hopeful that the people of Uganda, and their leadership, will ensure that their laws honor, protect, and defend the basic human rights and dignity of all Ugandan citizens.

Going forward, Invisible Children is committed to its mission to help end LRA violence in central Africa and to support the recovery of affected communities in the region. We believe strongly that continued U.S. support and leadership in these efforts is critical to success, and we are grateful for the investments that the Obama Administration has made thus far toward ending LRA violence and bringing top LRA commanders to justice.

To all of you who have worked, advocated, donated and struggled with us throughout the years in this quest for peace- thank you so much for your work and support.

Stop at nothing.

-Ben Keesey

Chief Executive Officer

(Photo Credit: Helena Okolicsanyi)