Paul Ronan of The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative just released a buff new report on the current state of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa as well as U.S. efforts to combat the rebel group.
Nearly seven years after President Obama was elected, and five years after he signed the landmark LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, the LRA is a shadow of the rebel force it was at the beginning of his first term. US counter-LRA efforts, including the deployment of US military advisers to assist African partner forces and launch innovative defection campaigns, have helped achieve a dramatic drop in LRA killings and the number of fighters at Joseph Kony’s disposal.
Still, LRA violence continue to plague parts of Democratic Republic Congo and eastern Central African Republic, with attacks and abductions even rising in some areas. Kony has survived in part by killing endangered elephants in Congo and trafficking the illicit ivory to Sudanese-controlled areas of South Darfur and the Kafia Kingi enclave, where he and his entourage enjoy a relatively safe haven from pursuing Ugandan and US troops.
Will Joseph Kony and the LRA outlast President Obama’s tenure in the White House, just as they outlasted Obama’s three predecessors? That’s the question at the heart of our new report, The Kony Crossroads: President Obama’s Chance to Define His Legacy on the LRA Crisis. We think that President Obama’s can ensure that Kony is captured and LRA combatants and captives are brought home before he leaves office. But it will take renewed steps to deny Kony safe haven in Sudanese-controlled areas, as well as closing off the LRA’s access to ivory and remote communities in Congo and eastern CAR.
At the same time, President Obama must look beyond Kony. The LRA has long preyed on communities that were already poor and politically marginalized, and defeating the LRA will not be a panacea for the problems they face. When President Obama signed the LRA legislation into law in 2010, he promised a comprehensive response to the crisis that would include greater assistance to communities that have survived LRA violence. He has yet to truly fulfill that promise, despite some promising initiatives. He must ensure that USAID develops a better strategy for efficiently implementing programs in LRA-affected areas that seek to protect civilians, help escaped abductees rebuild their lives, and jumpstart local economies.
Download or view our full report, complete with maps and graphs, at the links below.