A message from our CEO, Lisa Dougan, who is currently traveling through central Africa, checking in on our staff and programs in the region:
Dear Invisible Children Community,
I’m writing to you from Obo, Central African Republic (CAR), where I have been meeting with our outstanding Invisible Children staff, community partners, and other brave and resilient civil society leaders from LRA-affected areas. I’m thrilled to share some very exciting news I received this weekend during my travels: President Obama has decided to extend the U.S. mission to help arrest Joseph Kony and end LRA violence for a full year.
U.S. support to the African Union’s mission to stop Kony, protect civilians, and end the LRA crisis continues to be critical to the mission’s success, and we welcome this decision from the President. Roughly 100 U.S. advisors were first deployed to central Africa in 2011 as a part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to help end the violence of the LRA and bring Joseph Kony to justice. Since their deployment, we have seen a 93% reduction in killings by the LRA, and we’ve seen the peaceful defection by dozens of Ugandan LRA fighters who are key to the group’s strength and ability to terrorize civilians. The advisors continue to play a critical role in the collection of valuable intelligence needed to dismantle the LRA and arrest top LRA leaders, and they have been a central player in defection campaigns that encourage the peaceful surrender of LRA combatants. These defection campaigns are incredibly important, not only because they help weaken the LRA, but also given that the vast majority of LRA fighters were forcefully abducted as children.
Of course, we can’t celebrate this announcement from the President without thanking the hundreds of thousands of you who have lobbied your policymakers over the years (and particularly this year) to ensure that our government stays committed to ending LRA violence and bringing Kony to justice. I hope that this news continues to be a reminder of how powerful your voices are, and how important it is to keep speaking up. Additionally, we are thankful to our allies in Washington who share our commitment to LRA-affected communities and are determined to help see this crisis ended once and for all.
And most importantly, we are thankful for the courageous and determined community leaders and peace-builders in Uganda, DR Congo, CAR, and South Sudan, who continue to serve and advocate for their own communities who live with the daily reality of LRA violence. Their hard work reminds us that ours is far from over.
While the extension of the U.S. advisor mission is a critical component of stopping Joseph Kony and ending LRA violence, there are still gaps in the mission that must be addressed, and there are many other equally important forms of support to LRA-affected communities that are necessary in order for them achieve lasting recovery, peace, and security. (Read The Kony Crossroads, the most recent report from The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative, for more details.)
This summer, we asked you to contact your members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor the LRA Resolutions (H.Res. 394 in the House and S.R.237 in the Senate), bipartisan resolutions in both the House and Senate that not only urge the Obama Administration to stay committed to the mission to end LRA violence, but also address other important gaps, including reintegration support for LRA returnees, interventions to address wildlife poaching and illegal trafficking in the region, and the need for a comprehensive, long-term recovery strategy for LRA-affected communities.
You have done an fantastic job getting your members of Congress to cosponsor the LRA Resolutions — but we still need more to sign on. Thankfully, we have a little more time before the resolutions go up for a vote in Congress, so we need you to call your members TODAY.
Let them know how happy you are about the President’s decision, and urge them to cosponsor the LRA Resolutions. Our website makes it very easy for you to send your members of Congress a message in just a couple of minutes. If any of your representatives have already cosponsored, use the President’s announcement as an opportunity to thank them for their leadership and commitment to ending LRA violence. (Here’s an updated list of cosponsors)
Our Liberty is Bound Together,
P.S. The incomparable Ananda Robie, our Director of Supporter Engagement, has been trekking with me through central Africa, and she has taken over our Instagram and Facebook accounts so that you can follow our travels.