We’ve invested a ton of energy into dropping fliers and sending out radio messages to encourage LRA members to surrender. But there’s also a lot to be done on the other side of the equation – the communities that receive these LRA defectors.
The assurance of a safe receiving community is a vital element to LRA defection. That’s why we started Community Defection Committees (CDCs) and Safe Reporting Sites – to partner with communities in LRA-affected regions to help combatants return home.
It’s exciting to see how local communities are playing an essential role in bringing this conflict to an end. Here are three ways their efforts are so important:
1. LRA members know where and how to surrender.
Currently, there are 11 Invisible Children-established Safe Reporting Sites across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan. Quick definition: these are communities that have been identified by local, regional and international actors as strategic for LRA to defect, surrender their weapons, and start the process of reintegration.
The locations of Safe Reporting Sites are shared over radio messages and on maps on the back of Invisible Children’s defection fliers, enabling LRA members to find their way to one of these communities and understand that they can defect safely.
2. Safe Reporting Sites are in strategic locations.
The first Community Defection Committees were established in Djabir and Kpaika in DRC and in Mboki, CAR, and these communities also agreed to be Safe Reporting Sites. The three locations were chosen because of their proximity to high levels of LRA activity, and we have seen a massive decrease in LRA activity in the vicinity of CDC locations.
The rest of the 11 designated communities are also strategic – either because of their geographical location, UN presence, or because of specific LRA activity. Invisible Children helps support, implement and protect Safe Reporting Sites through the establishment of CDCs.
3. Communities are taking the lead.
Community Defection Committees have been established at all Safe Reporting Sites in order to organize, implement and encourage community-led defection efforts. The members of these committees are nominated and elected by their communities, who also appoint a CDC president. These committees have created their own defection fliers and messages, and they develop strategies that fit their own situations See this article for more info on what CDCs are doing.
CDCs and Safe Reporting Sites work together to maximize and facilitate safe defection opportunities for LRA members.